Saskatoon police are trying to find the person responsible for making a false report about a hostage taking in the city on Monday morning.
The call resulted in a significant police response in the Willowgrove part of the city, according to a press release. At 8:40 a.m., a man called Saskatoon police, identified himself and claimed he was at a residence on Lucyk Crescent and was holding two people hostage. The caller also claimed he had shot one of the hostages in the knee, demanded a ransom and said he was armed with guns and explosives.
After arriving at the home the caller claimed to be calling from, police determined the call was a hoax, and that the residents in the home were not involved with the call.
Police located a man in the city with the name given by the caller, but found he was also not involved. Police are continuing to investigate the hoax, but said there is currently very little information to go on.
The incident bears a resemblance to the practice of swatting, which has become a serious problem for police forces, especially in the United States. Swatting is a tactic meant to deceive police forces into believing a serious incident is happening at someone’s home.
Usually, the caller making the false report will claim an active situation involving a gun is in progress, such as a hostage taking. The goal is to provoke a heavy police response, potentially involving a SWAT team.
A watch commander with the Saskatoon Police Service said that while police don’t use the term swatting, the event did have many similarities with other instances of swatting.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Saskatoon Police Service at 306-975-8300 or Saskatoon CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
A Saskatoon resident living in the city's Willowgrove neighbourhood found his street swarming with at least 12 police cars and cruisers Monday morning.
"The people who reside there had no idea why the police had surrounded their home," said Staff Sgt. Grant Obst.
It turns out the police had received a call before 9 a.m. CST from a man claiming to have two people hostage in the home on Lucyk Crescent.
The man said he had two people under his armed sway, wanted money and that he had shot someone in the house, hence why two paramedics vehicles had also joined the cadre of police vehicles, said Obst.
Once police officers, including a member of the tactical unit and a member of the K9 unit, arrived at the sleepy neighbourhood, the call turned out to be "a 100 per cent hoax."
"Of course we apologized and backed off and at this point we're just trying to figure out who called and what it was about," said Obst.
Police had to respond the way they did in case the threat turned out to be real, said Obst, echoing statements previously made by authorities in the wake of the significant police responses to the infamous white powder scares perpetrated by Alexa Emerson.
"There was nothing to it at all other than somebody wasting a lot of time and resources," said Obst, adding that such responses come with a cost.
"If you've got 10 or 12 police officers, a canine unit, an ambulance unit deployed to one certain part of the city, obviously there are other parts of the city that are being left alone or neglected," said Obst.
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