A Leduc woman says she was the victim of “swatting” over the long weekend, when she and her children suddenly found their home surrounded by armed police officers.
“Swatting” is the term used when a call is made to police making a false claim that a major incident, often involving hostages, is unfolding at a residence. It often results in a tactical team being deployed.
Tasha McCrae and her three children moved into a duplex in a quiet neighbourhood in the community south of Edmonton at the beginning of the month. On Monday afternoon, McCrae’s toddler was down for a nap, and her older children had two friends over. McCrae was having a shower, and said when she stepped out she heard what she first thought was a megaphone on an ice cream truck.
She looked out the window and saw a police car. That’s when she heard the voice on a megaphone order the residents of her unit to come out with their hands in the air.
“I open the door really slowly, because I’m scared at this point, and my entire street is closed off, full of cop cars,” she said. “There’s cops behind my van as well. So they’re all hiding behind their vehicles with their rifles pointed at the door.”
In an interview Tuesday, Leduc RCMP Const. Bridget Morla said officers were called at about 2:39 p.m. to respond to a “high priority 911 call” in the city’s Telford subdivision.
McCrae said it was like living out a scene from a movie as she stood on her doorstep, and tried to keep herself covered with only a towel while officers ordered her to put her hands up.
She said she was crying and tried to explain to the police with raised weapons that it was only her and five children in the house.
McCrae said she thought the police might be at the wrong unit, or looking for someone else.
“They’re asking me if I have a man in the house with a gun … I’m telling them I don’t, I don’t know what they’re talking about,” she said.
Eventually the officers let her go inside and get dressed, and allowed her to gather the children in a single room. She put them in a bedroom, then police made her move them all to the living room as they searched the home, guns raised.
“They searched my entire house with my kids screaming, found nothing, and then left,” she said.
After searching the neighbouring unit and a basement suite, the police returned.
“[They] ended up coming in an apologizing and telling me I was swatted,” she said. “As far as I’m aware, somebody called and said someone in my house had shot and killed their dad.”
Morla said Tuesday that police are still investigating the source of the call, and no further information will be provided while the investigation is ongoing. She said no arrests have been made, and would not confirm the incident was swatting.
“The nature of the call was determined to be unfounded, and we determined there was no concern for safety for the public as a result of the investigation,” she said.
McCrae said she can’t think of anyone who might have been responsible.
“The cops said sometimes teenagers do it for fun, to watch from their window,” she said.
McCrae said she’s not angry with police for doing their job, but wonders if they could have handled the situation differently.
“When I came out in a towel, soaking wet from a shower, crying that I have kids in the house, I think they should have been able to notice that, no, there’s no active shooter,” she said.
She said her oldest child was shaken up by the incident, but her younger kids are OK.
McCrae said she immediately told her new landlord what happened, but remains stressed out because they don’t know each other well and the incident happened just two days after she moved in.
“My anxiety was just on high alert, I don’t want to get evicted,” she said.
This isn’t the first time police have investigated a swatting incident in Alberta.
Hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary have been targeted. In late 2017, police surrounded a Calgary home after a man called and reported killing his father and stated he was holding other family members hostage.
The residents at the Calgary address were uninjured.