911 hoax nearly ends in disaster for Lake Stevens family

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. -- A Lake Stevens family became the victim Monday of a 911 prank called "swatting," and the episode could have ended in disaster.

Curtis Henke is a competitive gamer who is vying to be at the top of the industry. But on Monday night, a game of "Call of Duty' suddenly went from virtual to reality.

"We hear, like, 'Residents of so and so, you need to come out,' and I'm like, 'Dad, that's our house,'" Curtis said.

His father Warren was equally confused by the situation.

"What I thought was that there was a fugitive in the area," he said.

Police surrounded the Henke's house, and they soon told Warren a bizarre story that could have ended tragically.

"(They said) 'From our point of view, your son called in on Skype and said he was really angry and depressed that he had shot you in the head," Warren said.

His wife Sandi continued with what she heard the officers say.

"He tied up his mother with explosives, he's gonna blow up the house, he's gonna harm any officer who tries to get in the house," she said.

It soon became clear that the family and the police were victims of a hoax and none of what the 911 operator was told was true.

The practice of making such hoax calls has become known as "swatting." The term comes from the pranksters' desire to have heavily armed SWAT teams dispatched to their calls.

The Henke's think it was possibly someone who follows Curtis' gaming, even perhaps a jealous competitor who was behind the bogus call.

Because his live stream was running, people who were following his gaming saw part of the incident unfold inside their home. They hope by coming forward about their experience lawmakers will consider increasing the penalties people who are behind such acts could face.