After a recent rash of prank 911 calls spawned new anti-swatting legislation in California , the LAPD declared they would stop publicizing and confirming new swatting incidents. We thought that might be the last we heard of swatting, but just a few days after the announcement, another swatting incident was confirmed: State Sen. Ted Lieu, who introduced the recent anti-swatting legislation, was a victim of the very behavior he hopes his bill will eliminate. A dozen Torrance, California, police officers swarmed Sen. Lieu’s home after a report came in that the Lieu had shot his wife.
Nobody was hurt in the action, but Sen. Lieu’s resolve was strengthened: “I’m now more determined than ever to put in stronger deterrents to swatting,” Lieu told reporters afterward.
Here’s a look back at a few of the many celebrity swatting incidents that have plagued police forces across Southern California…
SEAN “P. DIDDY” COMBS
April 3, 2013: A fleet of police cruisers and two police helicopters were sent to the Toluca Lake home of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs when a 911 caller reported a person wounded by gunshot in the residence. Of course, when police arrived they quickly smelled a rat – and soon left without incident.
Combs’ stepson Quincy later expressed relief that the scary incident was ultimately harmless: “I understand that police can’t take it light… I’m glad everyone responded safely and no one got hurt,” he told TMZ.
April 4, 2013: It was just after 3 pm when the 911 call came in informing police there had been a shooting inside a tony Pacific Palisades home. Law enforcement and paramedics arrived at the home to find no one injured, and that the home belongs to Robyn Fenty, the 25-year-old popstar known worldwide as Rihanna.
Rihanna’s former boyfriend, R&B singer Chris Brown, had suffered his own swatting attack a few months earlier.
January 21, 2013: As the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Day and the second inauguration of President Obama, the LA residence of singer Chris Brown became the latest in a long line of celebrity swatting pranks. At around 5 p.m., LAPD got call about a domestic violence incident at Brown’s home, in which his mother was believed to have been shot. They arrived at the scene to find only Brown’s staff at home.
Police searched the home, but quickly determined that the call was a hoax – and a reminder of the past for Brown, who pleaded guilty to domestic violence in 2009 for an assault on his then-girlfriend popstar Rihanna.
April 5, 2013: Police officers responded to actor/singer Timberlake’s home in the Hollywood Hills when they received information from a 911 caller that four black males had broken into the home, fired bullets, and left behind a box with red blinking lights. When authorities arrived at the home, they found the call was just another hoax.
April 5, 2013: Just two hours after a swatting incident at Justin Timberlake’s home, authorities rushed out to the residence of Disney star Selena Gomez, 20. This 911 caller told a grisly soon-debunked tale: that Gomez’ father had shot her mother to death, that he remained heavily-armed and was threatening to set the home on fire.
April 8, 2013: When 911 dispatch heard reports that two armed men wearing body armor were approaching the Los Angeles home of British comedian Russell Brand police sped to the scene – only to find the 37-year-old former husband of Katy Perry had left a half-hour earlier. There were no signs of distress in the area.
Later that week, Brand made light of the incident on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show: “There’s always some helicopters and police at my house anyway because of my involvement in other activities, so I didn’t notice any additional ones.” But even the wildly irreverent comedian acknowledged the downside to swatting: “What would be bad would be if the police were attending a swatting and then an actual crime happened and it took the police too long to get there because they were doing a swatting,” Brand said, “But other than that, it sounds like a laugh.”
April 10, 2013: Police were called to the Beverly Hills home of American Idol star Ryan Seacrest. After receiving a 911 call reporting shots fired in the home by “mobster looking guys in suits with rifles.”
Beverly Hills police descended on the palatial home purchased by the 38-year-old entertainer from Ellen DeGeneres for about $39 million, but found nothing amiss. The BHPD sent out a tweet announcing “No Signs Of Trouble, Everyone OK” at the Seacrest home.
February 18, 2013: Swatting might be a young person’s game, but it doesn’t only effect fresh celebrities. Real cops descended upon the Bel Air home of 82-year-old “Dirty Harry” star Clint Eastwood after a 911 call described a horrific scene of multiple men with assault rifles shooting residents. Police immediately realized the call was a fake and avoided deploying an overwhelming SWAT team presence.