A Chilliwack family is speaking out after falling victim to a terrifying prank.
The Carons were stunned Thursday afternoon when their home was suddenly surrounded by dozens of police, including heavily-armed members of the emergency response team.
“SWAT teams were in our tree, on the roof, everywhere,” Darlene Caron said.
Someone contacted a local pizza business and said the family was being held at gunpoint.
The family appears to have been the victim of a “swatting,” which police describe as a way of engaging emergency services with false calls in order to enact revenge on an individual or organization by causing heavily armed police teams to respond to a situation thinking there is an active shooter at the scene.
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“A police officer is on the phone wanting to tell me that I need to gather all the people in my house and one by one come out with our hands up,” Caron said.
The rich Canadian history of ‘swatting’
Caron, an early childhood educator who happened to be home sick from work, said she had no idea what was going on. She got her children together, along with the family dog, and followed police orders and went outside.
“My mom woke me up because they were calling her and we were led outside having to have our hands up. Then we sat out there and they told us what was going on,” son Josh Caron said.
Neighbours also noticed the large police presence and were told local schools were keeping students inside.
Until Thursday, Caron had never heard of swatting but says now she hopes to help educate others on what to do if it happens to them.
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“Stay calm, do what they tell you to do and ask questions later,” she said.
It’s unclear where the online threat was made. RCMP say filing a false police report is a criminal offence.
Swatting is hardly a new phenomenon. In 2015, a 17-year-old boy from Coquitlam pleaded guilty to more than a dozen charges of extortion, public mischief and breach of recognizance after alleged swatting incidents in Fort Meade and Winter Haven, Fla. between September and November 2014.
— With files from Adam Miller
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