SWAT team called to congresswoman's home

SWAT team called to congresswoman's home
© Getty Images

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) on Sunday night was the target of a so-called swatting hoax, when an anonymous person calls in an emergency situation to law enforcement in the hope of having a SWAT team show up to a target’s home.  

Multiple police officers with “long guns” showed up to the family’s home on Sunday night, responding to an anonymous report of an active shooter, according to Clark’s office. Her husband and teenage children were at the home during the incident, but no one was hurt. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“My family and I are grateful to Chief Lyle and the Melrose Police Department for their timely and professional response,” Clark said in a statement. “No mother should have to answer the door to the police in the middle of the night and fear for her family’s safety simply because an anonymous person disagrees with her.”

Clark, along with other lawmakers, introduced legislation a few months back that would explicitly make swatting a federal crime and allow judges to impose fines and steep prison sentences as punishment.

Sunday night’s incident is still being investigated by local police.

The phenomenon of swatting has been increasingly cited in media reports. It can stem from another form of online abuse known as doxing, which occurs when someone’s personal information, such as a phone number or home address, is widely released on social media or other places online. 

Swatting became increasingly frequent with online gamers who live stream their play. Anonymous individuals would attempt to swat those players in the hope of capturing the incident on the live stream. Celebrities and public officials have also been victims. 

Clark has introduced a number of bills aimed at cracking down on online abuse. Her anti-swatting legislation would allow judges to impose a fine and issue up to five years of prison time on swatters, who knowingly transmit false information that activates an emergency team. 

Under the legislation, jail time could be increased to 20 years if serious bodily harm happens as a result of the swatting incident, and an indefinite prison sentence could be imposed if death occurs.