False 911 call traced to out-of-state computer - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

False 911 call traced to out-of-state computer

Multiple Huntsville Police units were called to a false emergency at the Lake Forest subdivision Tuesday evening. Multiple Huntsville Police units were called to a false emergency at the Lake Forest subdivision Tuesday evening.

A 911 call that proved to be false could be very costly for both the City of Huntsville and the person who placed the call in the first place.

A total cost to taxpayers is still being calculated following Tuesday night's "swatting" incident that disrupted life for residents of the Lake Forest subdivision and the vital services of emergency responders.

Authorities shut down the neighborhood after a call that several people had been shot at a residence there, but after hours of investigation, police determined the call was a hoax.

City officials confirmed Wednesday the caller used a computer program to make the call, and authorities traced the IP address to an out-of-state computer. 

Officials said the computer program is supposed to be for someone who is hearing-impaired. They are not sure if the person that made the phone call is hearing-impaired.

WAFF Legal Analyst Mark McDaniel said whoever made the call is in serious trouble. He said the culprit faces at least two charges – filing a false report and giving a false name or address. Both are Class-A misdemeanors.

According to Alabama State law, that means both charges are punishable by up to one year behind bars. Each charge includes a fine of up to $6,000. McDaniel said because this hoax cost taxpayers a lot of money and resources – police, emergency management, and other crews – the person who made the call could have to pay all of that money back as part of special damages.

"It's very serious, and judges take it very seriously, and prosecutors take it very seriously. They don't start doing a whole lot of negotiating as far as plea bargaining in this situation," said McDaniel.

City officials said SWAT teams were on standby Tuesday but were never called to the scene. The owner of the home police swarmed said he owns an internet security business and that someone in Michigan made the call to extort him.

City officials have not released the location where the call originated.

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