CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va (WRIC) — A Chesterfield couple is speaking out about being victims of a criminal “prank” that led dozens of police officers and SWAT team members to their home.
Andrew and Judy Kristensen were live streaming their video game tournament online Friday night. It is a hobby they like to do in their free time.”You’re fully immersed and you’re not aware of anything that’s happening in the house,” said Andrew.
Meanwhile, they did not know dozens of officers and SWAT team members were surrounding their home for about two hours after getting reports of an assault with a deadly weapon at the home.”They seemed to have said that children were being held hostage and shot, or that I was shot, or something along those lines,” said Judy.
The Kristensen’s were victims of what is called “swatting” — when someone makes a false report to send emergency response teams to a particular location. They said it usually happens to celebrity gamers and has turned deadly in the past.
Police and family attempted to get in contact with the Kristensen’s but Andrew said his cell phone does not receive calls when he is live streaming. Judy said she got a call from an unknown caller ID and ignored it.
Andrew realized something was wrong when a call from his brother went through around 1 a.m. “He frantically said, ‘Hey, I think something is going on. There’s police at your house,” said Andrew.
Andrew looked outside and saw there were police lining the home. He called for Judy to come outside with him.
“The police, at that time, maybe assumed that we were criminals, murderers, and that we were potentially going to come out and shoot at them,” Andrew said.
Outdoor security cameras show the couple walking out with their hands up.
“I think I just said, ‘This is a prank, we’re getting swatted, this isn’t us,'” said Judy.
The couple was handcuffed and officers searched the home. You can even see armed officers in the background of their live stream.
The couple still do not know who is responsible for “swatting” them, but they believe it was someone who watched their live stream and found their home address. Now, they are just thankful everyone is okay.
“It’s one thing to prank call somebody, but to send armed forces, a SWAT team with assault rifles… first of all, you’re wasting their time and money, you’re asking them to potentially go shoot innocent people and then have to live with that, and you’re also just putting people in danger,” said Andrew.
The Kristensen’s said they are thankful for how police handled the situation and will be holding a fundraiser for them. They will also continue to work with police to figure out who was responsible for the swatting.