Jordan Mathewson was playing the video game Counter-Strike online Wednesday when he noticed something wasn’t quite right. “Uh oh, this isn’t good,” Mathewson said on the live online broadcast of his gaming session. “They’re clearing rooms, what in the world? I think we’re getting swatted.” Mathewson, sitting in a video game company in Littleton, Colorado was, in fact, being “swatted.”
Within moments, a heavily armed SWAT team charged in the room and arrested the gamer after a call to police said there was an active shooter in the building. “The caller claimed to have shot two co-workers, held others hostage, and threatened to shoot them. He stated that if the officers entered he would shoot them as well,” the Littleton Police Department said in a statement. “There were no victims or any evidence that a shooting had taken place.” The 9-1-1 call appears to be hoax. But the danger to Mathewson was real as police in Littleton, understandably, take active shooter situations seriously after nearby shooting tragedies at Columbine and Aurora.
The practice of swatting, as Slate’s Justin Peters wrote last year, is when “you contact the police, falsely report a horrible crime or a hostage standoff, and convince them to send a SWAT team to your unsuspecting victim’s door.” The high stakes prank, which also happens to be illegal, first blipped on the pop culture radar with celebrities getting swatted. Now, the BBC reports, some in the gaming community have adopted it as a way to sabotage opponents.