By Dee Longfellow

For The Elmhurst Independent

Phony ‘emergency’ causes library evacuation
Elmhurst police officers surrounded the Elmhurst Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 15, after an unknown threat was reported. The incident turned out to be a “swatting” prank, a hoax reported to emergency officials to draw out a SWAT team.

About 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, the Elmhurst Public Library had to be evacuated and was placed on lockdown due to an unknown threat. Police and fire officials were on the scene immediately, some with automatic rifles, securing the area and urging drivers to avoid using the surrounding streets.

Elmhurst squads were assisted by the Bensenville Police Department as well as Oak Brook, which brought its canine unit to help clear the building. One person on the scene was wearing an FBI jacket.

By Saturday afternoon, it was learned the library had fallen victim to a “swatting” prank, which brings out a SWAT team, hence the name. Swatting refers to the act of making a hoax call to 9-1-1 to report an emergency situation that does not exist. The action is typically done over social media and the perpetrator can be miles and miles away, sometimes in a different state.

“The people who perpetrate this are looking for a tactical response,” FBI Special Agent John Bennett was quoted as saying following a similar incident that took place in Wichita. “They want to see armed officers, they want to see a bomb [squad], dogs, helicopters, that’s all part of the fun they see in this. It can be very devastating.”

The incident in Wichita, during which someone was actually shot and killed, initiated from a criminal suspect in Los Angeles. Because the threats are made over the Internet, usually on social media, police say it is fairly easy to track down the perpetrator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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