Over the past 6-months, several 911 calls were placed that claimed violent crimes were being committed in various neighborhoods in the South Bay. The act is known as “swatting,” and typically involves one or more people calling 911 and reporting a serious, violent crime in the hopes of eliciting a significant police response. In one recent call, a man informed the 911 operator that he had witnessed a shooting, and that the alleged shooter was now arming himself with additional weaponry as he expected a shoot out with police.
In this case, the callers got what they wanted as heavily-armed officers, firefighters and other emergency response personnel swarmed the scene. Once everyone arrived at the address, officers quickly learned that no crime had occurred. Instead, they discovered that the residents were asleep inside the home. According to the residents, it was the third time they had been the target of “swatters.”
The call, which came in on February 27, was not dissimilar to other reports that had been being made across the South Bay which all culminated in the same scenario; prompting an investigation. According to detectives, about 20 calls were made to 5 different police agencies in the South Bay, including Gardena, Torrance, Hawthorne, El Segundo and Hermosa Beach.
The investigation quickly culminated in the arrests of suspects Michael Sumolang and Corey Jackson, both of whom quickly confessed to making the calls. They are currently being charged with felony counts of reporting a false emergency.
False reporting of an emergency is covered under California Penal Code 148.3 PC. The law makes it illegal to report an emergency to any city, county, state department, district, agency, division, commission or board, knowing that the report is false. The crime is typically charged as a misdemeanor and results in the possible penalties of up to 1-year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. However, under certain circumstances, the crime can be charged as a felony. If so, the possible penalty includes up to 3-years in California state prison.