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East Aurora active shooter scare labeled as "swatting" prank

A Saturday morning phone call the village of East Aurora into chaos, causing thousands of dollars in damage and putting people at risk. The threat of a dangerous active shooter at the local Toy Loft turned out to be nothing more than a "swatting" prank, police say.

EAST AURORA, NY-- One phone call led to thousands of dollars in damage on Saturday morning, with the latest “swatting” prank to hit Western New York.

East Aurora/Town of Aurora Police were called Saturday morning at 7:13 am, from a man claiming he’d committed a serious crime.

“The caller stated that he had committed a homicide, killing his girlfriend, and that he was in an apartment, with a weapon, a firearm, and that he was holding the children at bay,” said Lieutenant David Suttell. “[He said] he was contemplating killing the children."

Police responded quickly, calling in police and first responders from about a half-dozen agencies.

The address matched up with East Aurora’s Toy Loft on Main Street, and as they converged, the caller reached out to police again, somewhere along Main Street, warning them to pull back or the shooting would begin.

Streets were held up for about 2 hours, before Orchard Park’s SWAT team made the decision to enter the building.

Nobody was inside. Nobody was being held hostage.

It didn’t take long for police to make the realization this was an incident of “swatting.”

2 On Your Side first introduced you to swatting back in April, a prank in which someone makes a hoax call to 911 to draw a response from law enforcement, especially to draw the SWAT team.

At first, Suttell said he felt grateful there was no dangerous shooter and no threat of anyone being hurt.

But that sigh of relief passed.

“As time goes on and that thought process fades, and you start to think, I'm angry. We placed members of the community in danger. It’s a rather hasteful response, its not a safe action,” said Suttell, who points out the speed emergency responders have to use when someone’s life may be on the line. “This person caused such a major disruption for what seems like no legitimate purpose."

And the price-tag easily reached several thousand dollars, Suttell said, but their investigation has now turned to finding out who made the call, and why.

If you have any information, police are asking you to call (716)-652-1111.

In the meantime, Suttell admits most of the cases of swatting—both locally and nationally-- come from perpetrators who are young adults or even teenagers.

“This is an educational opportunity,” said Suttell. “It’s a good opportunity for parents to speak with their children, to sit them down, have a discussion with them, and make them aware that as parents, you know what this and you’re not going to tolerate it.”

Because as police get better at tracking these cases, they certainly won’t be tolerating it either.

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