After fake hostage call, Catawba SWAT team responds

A Newton family say they are still traumatized after being the victim of a hoax called “Swatting” over the weekend.

“I haven’t been able to stop crying,” mother Karen Prince said. “And my hands are shaking since it happened.”

Police say around 10:30 p.m. Saturday someone called claiming to be Sean Prince, Karen’s son. The caller also used the mother’s address. The caller claimed he shot and killed his girlfriend and was thinking about killing his parents, who he said he was holding hostage.

Catawba County SWAT teams quickly came to the house prepared to kick down the door. The caller told police he had a 12-gauge shot gun.

“I have never been so scared in my life,” the mother said. Police called the family. The family had no idea what was going on.

“I hear my son on the phone,” Karen Prince said. “Don’t hurt us. Don’t shoot us. We are coming downstairs.”

Until we know it is a hoax, we have to treat it as real. It’s unfortunate that people are doing this.

Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Joel Fish

Once the family got downstairs, SWAT members greeted them in the front yard.

“We come to the front porch,” Karen Prince said, “and it’s like, ‘Get down here. Get on your knees. Drop to your knees. Get down now,’ and I am saying what in the hell is going on? We haven’t done anything.”

Officers zip-tied the parents and the son when the family came out.

Hoax SWAT calls are being reported across the country.

“A bit of my hand was poking out of the top,” Sean Prince said. “So they put a metal set on me as well, so they had me in two sets of handcuffs while I was freaking out.”

Police started asking questions and determined it was a prank call, and that the family had been “Swatted.”

“Until we know it is a hoax,” Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Joel Fish said, “we have to treat it as real. It’s unfortunate that people are doing this.”

It is believed the suspect got the son’s name and address from the online gaming website Twitch, which the son uses often.

“I don’t understand why,” Sean Prince said. “Why I am a target?”

He told WBTV he has no idea who would do this to him and says the night his family got “Swatted” he will always remember.

“Just have to face a firing line of assault weapons and cops,” Prince said. “And SWAT team – when you have done absolutely nothing wrong. It’s terrifying.”

Officials with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office say they can’t remember this type of incident happening in their county. Officers hope to trace the call to the suspect, and give a warning to people who want to do this.

How to respond to ‘Swatting’

▪ If police suddenly show up at your house, follow orders.

▪ If you think you could be a target, call police and give them your phone number. Tell them to call your house first before responding to a violent 911 call coming from your home.