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'This is not a joke': Multiple 'swatting' incidents reported before new law takes effect

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Posted at 6:30 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 19:10:15-04

(LEX 18) — Incidents of so-called “swatting” were reported in multiple central Kentucky counties this week, including two that brought police to the same Lexington street.

Neighbors tell us that police swarmed a house on Robertson Street Thursday afternoon, only to find out that the house was empty and the call that had brought them there was likely faked. Lexington police confirmed that they got a call that someone had been shot at that location, but that they arrived to find the call was unsubstantiated.

Police said that an unsubstantiated call was made to the same house Friday morning.

One neighbor told us that during the Thursday afternoon incident he saw police call for someone to come out of the Robertson Street house before kicking in the door.

“About 10 minutes later, everything was clear,” he said.

A new Kentucky law recently passed that will make “swatting,” a false report of violence meant to launch a police response, a felony punishable by jail time – but it doesn’t go into effect until July.

Representative Phillip Pratt, the sponsor of the bill, said his only regret is not putting an emergency clause on the bill to allow it to go into effect immediately.

“This is not a joke, this is serious,” Pratt said Friday. “You're putting innocent people's lives in danger and you've taken away valuable resources for people who may actually have an emergency.”

The neighbor on Robertson Street who spoke with LEX 18 said that he was glad Thursday’s incident happened around 2 p.m. – before the children in the area were released from school.

“My neighbor, she's got little grandkids,” he said. “The kids'll be out playing, they don't need to see that."

The neighbor, who did not want to give his name, said he was happy that “swatting” will become a felony.

“You could be in bed and have the police knocking on your door – or whatever, kick your door in when you’re not home,” he said. “It’s just real bad.”