Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), top-center, poses with a Boys and Girls Club two weeks before being targeted in an apparent swatting attack. (credit: Representative Katherine Clark)
Three months after she introduced the Internet Swatting Hoax Act in US Congress, Representative Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) found herself at the end of an apparent swatting attempt on Sunday night.
Melrose, Massachusetts police press spokesperson John Guilfoil confirmed to Ars Technica that the department received a phone call from “a computerized voice, not a natural voice” alleging “shots fired” and an “active shooter” at the address of Clark’s home. The resulting police report confirmed an incident time of 9:57pm for a “life alert alarm” and “automated call reporting shooter.”
This type of police report—using a disguised voice to allege false threats at a residence—is known as “swatting,” due to the likelihood that police departments will react by sending SWAT teams to respond to serious-sounding threats. In the case of the Sunday night call, however, Guilfoil confirmed that Melrose police followed “established protocols” to choose a de-escalated response of normal police officers, though the officers in question blocked traffic on both ends of Clark’s street with patrol cars. Guilfoil was unable to clarify whether weapons were drawn at the scene, and he did not answer our other questions about the incident, particularly those about the nature of the phone call received, “due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.”
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