ZEELAND, Mich. (April 18, 2014) – A quiet subdivision in Zeeland is swarmed by police responding to what they thought could be a gunman on the loose.
It all turned out to be a hoax, a prank that not only startled the homeowner whom police were rushing to, but also comes at a great expense.
The people living on Huizenga Avenue near 104th Avenue in Zeeland are not used to seeing armed police running through backyards and cruisers speeding down the streets.
On Tuesday, around 4:00pm, that’s exactly what Lynn Dalman saw as she got ready for work.
“I came into the living room and I didn’t know what I saw with all the sheriff’s cars and there was SWAT guys walking across the street,” said Dalman.
At home with her daughter, she decided she wasn’t going anywhere.
“We’re you scared?” I asked. “Yeah,” she said, “I was scared with guys walking around with rifles. I was thinking this was crazy, just plain crazy.”
Zeeland police along with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department were responding to a call of shots being fired in the neighborhood and were given a specific address on Huizenga Avenue.
Officers went into the home across from Dalman. The homeowner tells us two officers walked in his open door, pointed a gun at him and said, ‘Hands up!’. After the homeowner spoke with police and they took a quick search, the police determined that there never was a shooting and they were likely the victims of ‘swatting’.
It can be a costly crime, called swatting because it costs a lot to deploy a swat team.
The FBI estimates that it can cost about $10,000 to put a full SWAT team into action.
In 2012, Governor Rick Snyder signed a new law that stiffened penalties for those caught swatting.
If someone was to get hurt during the response, the person responsible for placing the fake call could face 5 to 15 years in jail. The fines can range from $20,000 to $50,000.
After seeing the affects in action Dalman hopes they catch whomever made the phony phone call to police.
Not only was it alarming for those who witnessed the police in the neighborhood, it was also disruptive, Dalman said she was delayed in getting to her job that day. As for the person whom police pointed a gun at, he said he’s lucky he didn’t suffer a heart attack.
So far no arrests have been made.