A SWAT team in New York descended on a Long Island home Tuesday after someone claiming to be a teenager named Rafael Costillo called police to report that he’d just killed his mother, and he “might shoot more people.” But when the SWAT team broke into the house, they learned that Costillo hadn’t done anything of the sort. In fact, he hadn’t even made the call.
Police later told the New York Post that the call had been made by another teenager with whom Costillo had just beaten in Call of Duty, the video game franchise that’s now sold more than 100 million copies. The caller, who police have not identified, gave the dispatcher Costillo’s address and said he could go on a killing spree at any minute.
Before long, helicopters, fire trucks, and cop cars had shown up. A two-hour standoff ensued with more than 60 police officers. When cops finally entered into the home, they found Costillo’s mother in the kitchen and his brother home for lunch. They’d been fooled by another instance of Swatting, a trend that began in 2011 that involves making prank calls in an effort to bring Johnny Law to somewhere that doesn’t need it.
“I thought there was a fire at my house,” said Costillo’s brother Jose, 21. “I ran up and saw my mom running out. I didn’t know what was going on.
“Then one of the police officers said someday called and said that the mother and brother of somebody in this house was killed. I said, ‘How is that possible if she’s right there and I’m right here?’”
Attempts to reach Costillo himself were thwarted by the fact that the 17-year-old was upstairs with a pair of headphones on. He’d continued playing Call of Duty throughout the whole episode.
“I told him that there’s a bunch of cops outside that are looking for you,” Jose said. He added that he’s seen similar pranks pulled before.
Police believe the pranker found Costillo’s address through a query on his IP address.
“It was probably just an evil little kid,” one officer told the Post. “We went and checked out the place and there was nothing there … It sucked up a lot of resources, caused traffic problems, and turned out to be a hoax.”
Screengrab via Gaming Grunts
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