LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The state senator from Torrance leading the legislative fight against “swatting” became a victim himself Friday of the prank that’s caused headaches for Los Angeles police officers in recent months.
About a dozen officers along with firefighters and paramedics all responded to the home of Sen. Ted Lieu on Friday afternoon. They were responding to a call from someone claiming to be Lieu who said he had shot his wife.
Lieu believes he was targeted because of his legislation. He was out of town at the time of the incident. His wife Betty was home sick and his kids were at school.
KCAL9’s Rachel Kim spoke to Lieu Friday evening about his emotions. “Now it’s anger,” he said, “but it started with deep concern. The first few minutes were quite scary.”
Lieu said he got several calls from Torrance police. “They asked me where I was and I said I was leaving Orange County because I had a meeting. And they said they had received a call that I had shot my wife in my home, and I assured them I didn’t do that.”
The term “swatting” refers to police sending a SWAT team to a celebrity home after a prank caller has told authorities there is some type of dire emergency happening there.
Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher, Selena Gomez, Ryan Seacrest, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Tom Cruise, Simon Cowell and Miley Cyrus have all been “swatted”. There have been many others.
In Lieu’s case, police arrived and made his wife and the nanny follow out with their hands up. They then searched the house to make sure it was safe. “I am committed now, more than ever, to enact legislation to deter swatting,” said Lieu.
If passed, Lieu’s legislation would force the person who places the prank call to pay for the misplaced police manpower — about $10,000. “We need to stop this,” he said. “Multiple first responders were at my house for no good reason. If something had happened elsewhere in the city, they wouldn’t have been able to respond.”
The practice of “swatting” has become so pervasive, the LAPD recently announced they will no longer provide into to media about the incidents.