"SWATting" is the act of convincing a heavily-armed band of local law enforcement that they need to raid a house. Sometimes this is done as a prank. Sometimes it is done maliciously. Everytime it happens, innocent lives are placed in danger.
Imagine you're sitting at home, comfortable on the couch, watching the Food Network, when all of a sudden a heavily armed SWAT team breaks down your door and storms into your living room.
That's what happened to 18-year-old Stephanie Milan, who was watching TV in her family's Evansville, Ind., home last Thursday (June 22), when a team of police officers broke down her storm door — the front door was already open — and tossed a flash-bang stun grenade into the room.
"The front door was open," Ira Milan, Stephanie's grandfather and the property owner, told the Evansvile Courier & Press. "To bring a whole SWAT team seems a little excessive."
Turns out, however, that the SWAT team had the address wrong.
The Courier & Press said the police had been investigating "anonymous and specific online threats made against police and their families on the website topix.com," and had obtained a search warrant for the Milan house. An Evansville police officer said one of the threats that came from the Milan household mentioned explosives and said, "Evansville is going to feel the pain."
Whoever made these threats, the Courier & Press said, likely remotely routed them through the Milan's open Wi-Fi connection, which means it could have been used from an outside location. It's possible the Milans, or specifically Stephanie, were targets of "swatting," a particularly nasty prank by which the perpetrator — often through hoax 911 calls — tricks a SWAT team into raiding a house of his choosing.
Note also that the police had a search warrant. How? Are judges handing out search warrants based on uncorroborated online threats? If so, we're all in danger.