The “swatting” fad, where computer gamers make fake calls to police to implicate other players in serious crimes, has had its first arrest as a man from Coventry has become the first Briton to be charged by police over it.
21 year old Robert McDaid, allegedly called a terrorism hotline in the state of Maryland claiming to be as a man called Tyran Dobbs.
He said he’s armed with a gun and several bags of explosives and that he would kill three hostages unless $15,000 were delivered in a red bag to his address.
The police took the threat seriously and raided 20-year-old Dobbs’ home. They shot him between the eyes and in the chest with rubber bullets which broke bones in his face and bruised his lungs. He had a heavily swollen, bruised and cut face, as shown in the images which were taken after the incident.
Investigators say that they traced the call to McDaid after they realized their mistake. McDaid is now charged in the US with three offences, including conspiracy to produce false information and hoax. He could get up to 20-years in prison if convicted.
According to the US Department of Justice, McDaid was requested by an American gamer called Zachary Lee to “swat” Dobbs. Lee called McDaid using an internet telephone service in February 2015.
The “swatting” trend was named after (SWAT) teams that usually respond to such calls. It has caused police to raid the homes of innocent people after they were reported by their online rivals.
Lee, the instigator, has been charged with the same offences as McDaid.
Rod Rosenstein, Maryland US prosecutor said: “We are working with officials in the UK to ensure that Robert McDaid is held accountable for his alleged actions because the alleged criminal activity represents a grave threat to public safety.”
However, Dobbs has condemned the police for their rash reaction and wondered about the reason they didn’t check the authenticity of the call before acting.
Dobbs’ father and cousin reportedly told the police that there was no hostage situation and that the so-called hostage taker was actually asleep, but were ignored.
Dodds gave an interview to US news channel ABC7, where he said: “How did y’all not trace this call back? How did y’all not figure out where it came from?” I want justice. I want them to pay for my medical damages and I want whoever shot me in my face to have to do some time.”