Seacrest latest celebrity to have home ‘swatted’
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Ryan Seacrest became the latest celebrity targeted by a “swatter” when a hoax 911 call reported armed men were shooting their way into the “American Idol” host’s home Wednesday.
When police arrived at Seacrest’s Beverly Hills home at about 2:40 p.m., they found Seacrest there, but no group of armed men, a Beverly Hills police spokesman said.
After speaking with Seacrest and his security team, the officers left.
Seacrest joins a growing list of celebs “swatted” in recent months, including Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Chris Brown, the Kardashians, Tom Cruise, Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber.
Russell Brand’s Hollywood Hills home was a target Monday afternoon when a 911 caller told a Los Angeles Police Department emergency dispatcher that a man with a gun was in the house.
These prank calls earned the nickname “swatting” because law enforcement agencies sometimes would send SWAT teams to respond to the false emergencies. In most cases, though, SWAT units are not involved. Still, officers rush to the scene with guns drawn.
“It’s a very high-risk response,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore told CNN Tuesday. “The problem with crying wolf is that sometimes it’s not false, so we always have to respond accordingly but cautiously.”
Law enforcement agencies are “making advances each day” in their ability to track the calls to their origin, Whitmore said. Along with new technology, investigators have analyzed the calls to learn how to identify them. “We’re getting better at knowing what is and what isn’t a hoax,” he said.
When Rihanna’s Hollywood Hills home was swatted last week, the dispatcher suspected it was a hoax, so just one police patrol car was initially sent, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.
“We figured it was a swatting,” Smith said “We really low-keyed it compared to how we’ve been.”
LAPD officers are being trained on “what to be aware of and the possibility these are swatting calls,” Smith said. “We’re training dispatchers to be able to recognize certain distinct characteristic of these calls and maybe change the way we dispatch them so they don’t draw as high a profile response.”