TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—No injuries were discovered after the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call detailing a violent incident that turned out to be a “nasty hoax,” according to Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne.

Around 5 p.m. Wednesday evening, police were seen gathering with guns drawn outside of the Gaslight Village Apartment Complex near Lansing, wearing bulletproof vests and surrounding a building before eventually determining that they had been given false information.

The situation sounds quite similar to “swatting” incidents, an online phenomenon in which a prank caller contacts police, claiming that someone is at a residence and has committed a violent act and, sometimes, threatening to commit further violence to provoke an armed response from law enforcement on unsuspecting victims. Its name comes from the caller’s hope that a SWAT team will be part of the response.

Osborne said that police received a call from a text-to-speech app from a number that belonged to someone who used to live in the apartment complex. The caller told emergency dispatch that “he had a rifle, that he had killed his girlfriend and that he was going to commit suicide.”

After responding to the incident, police later determined the person who the caller was claiming to be had moved to Texas. Nobody was taken into custody or injured.

“There was no indication that a homicide occurred at Gaslight Village after checking the complex and talking to residents,” Osborne said. “The person’s mother, who we have been in touch with, stated that this had somehow happened to her son once before. We are still attempting to get in contact with her son to tie up loose ends, but it doesn’t appear a crime occurred or that anyone was ever in danger.”

At least two people have died in swatting incidents over the last few years, one in Wichita, Kansas and one in Tennessee.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com