An Arlington police SWAT team entered a house Wednesday morning after a prank caller claimed he was a teenager who had shot his parents. They found an 88-year-old man still in bed.
The SWAT team parked its armored vehicle in the front driveway of the man’s house in the 3500 block of Ruidoso Drive.
"This is the Arlington Police Department. Come out with your hands up,” officers yelled over a loudspeaker.
Police warned neighbors to stay inside.
"And he said, 'Get back in your house now, immediately, and don't come out until we tell you,'” neighbor Sally Stilley said. “And I thought what in the world is going on?"
Someone claiming to be a 17-year-old had called police, saying he had just shot his parents and refused to put the gun down as instructed.
"I freaked out and I pulled the trigger,” the young voice said in the call. “I guess I shot both of them. I don't know. I don't want them to die. I don't want to get in trouble."
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He later hung up after threatening to take his own life and did not answer return calls.
Police said officers responded appropriately based on the information they had.
"If someone calls in a serious incident like this, certainly you are going to generate a police response until you find out it's not valid,” Arlington police Lt. Chris Cook said.
When officers finally went inside the house, they found Hollis Galyen, 88, a retired government worker, still in bed.
"I heard a big noise before they got in here. It was like something went off,” Galyen said. “Boy, I was awake when they came in my bedroom."
Galyen was a victim of swatting, police said.
"I wondered what they were doing here," he said.
Swatting is a fake call, usually traced to an internet phone number, designed to cause a SWAT team to respond.
"A lot of the swatting deals with these online games for whatever the reason,” Cook said. “The suspect gets mad, maybe they lose a game or has a grudge against you."
In this case, the prankster targeted a real teenager -- and even claimed to be him in the call -- but had the wrong address.
Galyen said he wasn’t scared to suddenly find strangers in his bedroom and doesn't blame the SWAT team at all.
"They came in to protect me,” he said. “It wasn’t their fault.”
Police have a message for the prankster.
"You think you can hide but at the end of the day you cannot hide with technology,” Cook said. “We have technology as well and we'll find out where it came from."
Asked what he thought about the fake caller, Galyen was quick to reply.
"I think they ought to be in jail,” he said.
Arlington police said they receive similar prank calls a few times a year.
In Kansas a few years ago, a swatting call resulted in an innocent man being shot and killed by police.
The prankster in that case was later convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.