BEND, Ore. - (Update: New info from police, video; several prank calls)
A call to Deschutes County 911 from a man who threatened to harm several people in a southeast Bend barber shop unless he got money brought numerous police and the region's swat team to the scene Wednesday afternoon. But police found no such activity and believe it was a kind of prank call known as “swatting.”
The call to dispatchers at 3:13 p.m. involved Sal’s Barber Shop on South Highway 97, Lt. Juli McConkey said. The male caller threatened to harm several people at the business, including the owner, and made financial demands.
Several Bend officers set up around the business and saw people coming and going, apparently not in distress. They contacted several people leaving who said they were unaware of any unusual activity, McConkey said.
The Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT) and a BLM K-9 officer also responded to assist, as officers checked the business and confirmed it was a false report.
Police suspect this was a “swatting” hoax, the type of prank call to 911 designed to bring a large number of armed officers to a location.
“There is no credible threat to our community and the investigation is continuing,” McConkey said.
Lt. Clint Burleigh said officers still went through the business to make sure everyone was safe.
“Swatting” is making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring a large number of police officers to a specific location. If a culprit is found, they are likely to be charged with disorderly conduct, McConkey said.
McConkey later said it was one of several similar prank calls on Wednesday “that are taking up first responders’ time” rather than “helping the public in need.”