Dozens of heavily armed deputies converge on CL home after “swatting” prank

CANYON LAKE — About three dozen heavily armed law enforcement officials – some wearing ballistic helmets and carrying rifles – converged on Canyon Lake earlier today after officials received reports of a hostage crisis at a private residence within the gated community. Canyon Lake is located off Railroad Canyon Road between the cities of Lake Elsinore and Menifee.

The incident was reported at a home in the area of Canyon Lake Dr. South and Blue Bird Dr., south of the lake’s Canyon Bay, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Curt Harris explained after the prank call-related incident was safely resolved.

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About three dozen deputies, SWAT members, and other sheriff’s officials responded to this morning’s report of a hostage situation in Canyon Lake. The call was determined to be a prank, commonly referred to as “swatting.” William Hayes/OC Hawk News photo

The situation began this morning shortly before 11 a.m., when Riverside County Sheriff’s emergency dispatchers received a call from a person on the department’s non-emergency line, according to Harris.

“The individual claimed he was holding hostages at gunpoint” inside the residence, said Harris. “That person made serious allegations and demands of the police,” which prompted the huge response from sheriff’s officials.

Deputies, SWAT members, investigators, and supervisors from the cities of Canyon Lake, Perris, and Menifee, as well as several surrounding unincorporated communities, responded to the potential crisis.

Cal Fire/Riverside County firefighters and AMR medics also responded to the area, prepared to provide medical care to any potential civilian or law enforcement personnel if needed.

While deputies from throughout the south Riverside County area responded to the scene, Perris Station investigators “quickly determined the emergency call was a prank,” commonly referred to as “swatting,” Harris explained.

“The occupants of the residence were not involved and were unharmed,” said Harris.

Canyon Lake residents were stunned to see the overwhelming response by sheriff’s officials, who responded to reports of a hostage situation in the quiet, gated community. William Hayes/OC Hawk News photo

“Swatting” emerged across the country several years ago after individuals began making prank calls to law enforcement claiming a dangerous and deadly situation was in-progress at a specific location, the Sgt. explained.

“The swatter’s goal was to cause a large contingency of armed officers to converge on a location and take an aggressive approach to the situation,” according to Harris, who explained that while the calls always turned out to be a hoax, they have sometimes ended with tragic consequences.

One such swatting prank call on December 28, 2017, turned deadly in Wichita, Kansas after a Los Angeles, California man called the Wichita Police Department and falsely reported that he had shot his father inside a Wichita home and was holding two other people hostage.

When officers converged on the home, 28-year-old victim, Andrew Finch, was fatally shot when he exited the front door of the residence. He was unarmed, confused, and reportedly had no idea why officers had surrounded his home.

The deadly incident happened after a video game dispute involving a disagreement over an online wager of less than $2, Wichita Eagle later reported.

The suspect in that case, later identified as 25-year-old, Tyler Barriss, was quickly tracked and arrested. He was later charged with involuntary manslaughter, interference with law enforcement, and making a false alarm – a felony. He later waived extradition to Kansas and his trial is currently pending. Two other men allegedly involved in the prank pleaded not guilty today in a Kansas court.

Riverside Sheriff’s investigation into today’s false report is ongoing and officials have not specified if a motive or suspect is known or has been arrested. Citing their ongoing investigation, the Sheriff’s Department has not released any further information.

Anyone with additional information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact Sergeant Curt Harris at the Perris Sheriff’s Station at (951) 210-1000, or by email. Callers can refer to incident file number CN18-165-0008 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

William Hayes/OC Hawk News photos

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 46, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.

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