Police raid a home in California after receiving fake hostage message on Domino’s Pizza’s app
An unknown person used Domino’s Pizza’s mobile ordering app not to order pizza but to send a message about a hostage situation at a home in California last week.
An employee working for Domino’s Pizza received a terrifying message for help last Tuesday morning from someone claiming to be held hostage in a residential neighborhood in Sherman Oaks, California. The employee immediately called 911 to notify them about the hostage situation.
With guns drawn, a team of police in tactical gear surrounded the house and began searching for the alleged captive, according to NBC San Diego. But no one could be found.
Several residents were removed from the two-story home – at least one in handcuffs – and interviewed, but none of the residents knew anything about the hostage situation or about the message sent via the Domino’s app, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said.
“It looked like it was about to be a war zone or something like that,” witness Mike Denson said. “I looked out the window, they had their guns out and everything; just had the place surrounded.”
The SDPD who are still investigating the case have determined that the incident could be a deliberate case of “swatting” or an attempt to prank or harass someone by falsely sending armed police to their residence.
“Swatting is the making of a hoax call to any emergency service to elicit an emergency response based on the false report of an ongoing critical incident,” according to the FBI. “Incidents typically produce the deployment of SWAT units, bomb squads, and other police units, as well as the evacuations of schools, businesses, and residences.”
Swatting is very commonly used by online gamers to report false cases of sometimes-violent crimes prompting police to send SWAT teams to the homes of innocent individuals and in some cases where people have been killed.
In one such case, a California man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for falsely reporting a shooting and kidnapping at the Kansas home of a man he was quarreling with over “Call of Duty” (online video game). However, the address given to the police belonged to an unrelated man, who was shot and killed by one of the responding officers.
However, not all cases are swatting pranks. In the past, Domino’s Pizza employees have successfully saved the lives of two women who were being held hostage at their home in two separate incidents.