MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — The McCracken County Sheriff's Office is searching for a suspect after someone called in a false report of a deadly shooting.
Paducah 911 Dispatch received the hoax call around 7:20 p.m. Sunday. The caller said he'd shot and killed one person at a home in the 8900 block of Old Mayfield Road and claimed he was going to kill another person there, the sheriff's office says.
Deputies went to the home, and found that it was abandoned. The sheriff's office says the false report was a "swatting" incident intending to provoke an emergency response from law enforcement.
Swatting is term for prank or hoax calls intending to draw a large law enforcement presence to a specific address. It is often used to refer to a form of harassment in which the caller targets a specific individual or organization. In 2017, one such hoax call led to the death of a 28-year-old man. In that case, police responded to a call claiming a man had killed his own father and was holding other members of his family hostage inside a Wichita, Kansas, home. The man who lived in the home, who had committed no crime and had no knowledge of the call, was killed by police after he opened the door to find out what was happening outside.
In January of this year, a Wisconsin teen was charged with terroristic threatening after investigators say he called in a false report of a shooting and a bomb threat at Murray High School. Investigators said the suspect in that case, Kya Nelson of Racine, Wisconsin, was also suspected in swatting incidents in Los Angeles. The first false report resulted in a lockdown at the school. The second led to an evacuation of the school, followed by a week of virtual learning.
The McCracken County Sheriff's Office says swatting calls can be very dangerous, even when they don't result in death or injury — diverting law enforcement from other areas where they may be needed. The calls can also create a "volatile situation" at the location targeted by the hoaxer, the sheriff's office says.
The sheriff's office says deputies and detectives are working to find out who made the call, and will pursue criminal charges against the person responsible.