Reports emerge of dangerous 'swatting' attempts that sent armed police to homes of Special Counsel Smith and D.C. Judge Chutkan

 January 12, 2024

A dangerous growing trend known as "swatting" has risen in frequency in which typically partisan anonymous actors make false reports of imminent emergencies or crimes in progress that are designed to elicit an aggressive armed law enforcement response at the home address of a targeted political opponent.

That is reportedly what occurred on Christmas Day when local police were falsely called to an alleged shooting at the Maryland home of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading two federal prosecutorial efforts against former President Donald Trump, according to CBS News.

Smith is not alone in that regard, either, as the outlet further reported that D.C. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over one of those federal cases involving Trump, was also the target of an attempted swatting call this past weekend.

Special Counsel Smith was swatted on Christmas

NBC News was the first to report on Monday that, according to two unnamed law enforcement sources, Montgomery County police were dispatched to Special Counsel Smith's home on Christmas Day in response to a 911 call that claimed that Smith had shot and killed his wife.

As the police were en route, however, contact was made with the U.S. Marshals' protective detail for the special prosecutor, and they quickly informed the local police that the call had been a false report and everything was fine at Smith's home.

Thus far, it doesn't appear that any arrests have been made in connection with the incident, and the special counsel's office, as well as Montgomery County and the U.S. Marshals, have all declined to respond to requests for comment.

The media outlet noted that the special counsel's office, and Smith in particular, have reportedly been subjected to countless instances of death threats and harassment since he began his prosecutorial efforts against the former president, and millions of taxpayer dollars have reportedly been spent to keep Smith and members of his team safe from potential harm.

Judge Chutkan targeted with swatting attempt

As for Judge Chutkan, CBS News reported that Washington D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department was called anonymously on Sunday with a report about a shooting at her home that resulted in multiple officers being dispatched in response, according to at least three unnamed law enforcement sources.

When those officers eventually arrived on the scene they reportedly "found nothing" to support the 911 caller's claims, and subsequently spoke with the homeowner, presumably Chutkan herself, who was said to have "advised that she was not injured and that there was no one in her home."

The responding officers reportedly searched the residence nonetheless and soon confirmed that the initial call that prompted the police response had been inaccurate.

The media outlet noted that the tactic of swatting is not one-sided in terms of partisanship, as several prominent Republican elected officials have also been subjected to the potentially dangerous law enforcement responses to false emergency reports, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Brandon Williams (R-NY), as well as Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), among others.

FBI has warned about how dangerous the swatting tactic is

In 2022, the FBI issued a press release to raise awareness about "the dangers of swatting," with swatting defined as "a form of harassment to deceive an emergency service provider into sending a police and emergency service response team to another person’s address due to the false reporting of a serious law enforcement emergency."

"Traditionally, law enforcement has seen swatters directing their actions toward individuals and residences," the release continued. "Increasingly, the FBI sees swatters targeting public places such as airports, schools, and businesses. Another recent trend is so-called celebrity swatting, where the targeted victims are well-known personalities."

"These calls are dangerous to first responders and to the victims. The callers often tell tales of hostages about to be executed or bombs about to go off. The community is placed in danger as responders rush to the scene, taking them away from real emergencies, and the officers are placed in danger as unsuspecting residents may try to defend themselves," the FBI concluded.

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