A prank known as “swatting” brought the hammer down on a Colorado gamer, whose gun-drawn rush by a SWAT team was seen by thousands on live, streaming video. The alarming hoax – a trending prank pulled on celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Tom Cruise, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber – involves phone hackers calling in credible active shooter reports, prompting SWAT teams to descend on a home or workplace.
Writes ABC News: “Online live-streaming video showed officers bursting into a Littleton, Colorado, video game company on Wednesday with guns drawn. Officers thought they had an active-shooter situation, so they set up a perimeter, evacuated businesses and locked down nearby schools.”
Littleton Police Chief Doug Stephens called it a “credible” threat, and said the anonymous caller stated that the gamer “had just shot multiple people,” Stephen said.
Caught in the prank was gamer Jordan Mathewson, who uses the online moniker "Kootra" and who has hundreds of thousands of Twitter and YouTube channel followers. Police were dispatched to Mathewson’s office on West Mineral Avenue and Broadway in Greenwood Village after the caller told them Mathewson was involved in an office shooting.
Mathewson said he knew what was happening even before armed SWAT personnel busted into his office and ordered him to the floor under gunpoint.
In the video, Mathewson says: "Uh oh, this isn't good. They're clearing rooms. What in the world? I think we're getting swatted."
Even though he knew it was a prank, Mathewson says it was frightening.
"I knew almost right away what exactly was happening," he said. "But I was still frightened you know, having some guns pointed at you isn't exactly the most common thing."
At one point, an officer confronts Mathewson about the fact the gamer appears to be laughing, asking him: "What about this is funny to you?" Mathewson said it wasn’t humor, it was his nerves.
"I've heard people say that I appear to be amused, but I really didn't have any control over myself at the time," Mathewson said. "I was just terrified and I really don't know what was going through my head."
As far as who is behind the hoax? Mathewson said he has no clue.
“It could have been any one of the thousands of people that were watching,” Mathewson said. “They really like the anonymity of being online and being able to get away with stuff, and they like to test that sometimes.”
Police are attempting to trace the prankster, who called from a landline. If caught, the caller faces federal prosecution. Local businesses and schools were put on lockdown and SWAT teams established a perimeter with heavy vehicles before entering Mathewson's workplace with weapons ready.
“This is not a game. It’s not an online game,” Stephens said. “We have real guns, real bullets and there’s a potential there for some tragedy.”