FF12 looks into 'swatting' after deadly officer-involved shooting

Photo: Nintendo of America / Twitter
Photo: Nintendo of America / Twitter(WHSV)
Published: Dec. 29, 2017 at 10:16 AM CST
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Police have yet to confirm that an officer-involved shooting in west Wichita Thursday night that left one man dead was the result of "swatting," but they did say detectives are looking into the possibility.

Factfinder 12 has been digging into what happened.

What is swatting?

We have learned that several Twitter users claim the incident was a case of swatting. It's a practice where video game players send the police to someone's house.

occurs when someone anonymously calls 911 about an emergency such as an active shooter.

Police respond to the given address - sometimes with a full SWAT team.

In some cases, the person inside the home officers are called to is streaming online so their reaction can be recorded by prankers.

The FBI has acknowledged that swatting is a dangerous situation for first responders and the victims.

Not only does it take officers away from keeping you safe. It also puts law enforcement and the victim in danger as unsuspecting residents try to defend themselves.

It's happened here before

Wichita police talked about the dangers after an incident back in 2015 when police got a call about a man who had shot a woman near Central and Maize.

After a further investigation, police found out that no one was hurt and the call didn't even come from the home.

It turned out this was a case of swatting.

"I'll tell you that it's a very stressful situation when you have someone that has made that comment that they want to harm another person and they want to take other lives," said Lt. James Espinoza who was the Wichita Police Department's acting public information officer in 2015.

How do swatters strike?

One way swatters get your location is by snatching your IP address.

Everything connected to the internet has one. It's the online equivalent to your physical address.

Your IP address gives criminals the information needed to send police to your location.

There are companies that work to stop swatting from happening.

An Alabama company recently created software known as Curse Voice which specifically prevents hackers from doing just that.

It was recently acquired by Twitch - a streaming service that several gamers use.

"You have a home address, which is your street and your number, and an IP address is the exact same thing except it lets other users connect directly to your internet connection to your house," said Micahel Compreda of Curse Voice. "Our product, Curse Voice, is a client-server style application, so it protects you from IP address theft."

How is swatting prosecuted?

Swatting can be prosecuted in several ways.

Suspects could face charges of conspiracy to commit access device fraud or to obstruct justice.

A California state law requires someone accused of swatting to bear the full cost of the response which can cost up to $10,000.

There was also a federal bill introduced that would have increased penalties for someone. That bill eventually died in committee.