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‘Swatting’ incident reported at the White House

Multiple vehicles, including fire trucks, responded to the complex following a 911 call placed shortly after 7am on Monday

Mike Bedigan
Los Angeles
Tuesday 16 January 2024 19:29 GMT
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Emergency service workers rushed to the White House on Monday in response to reports of a fire that was later determined to be a likely “swatting” incident.

Multiple vehicles, including fire trucks, responded to the complex following a 911 call placed shortly after 7am.

According to the Associated Press, the report alleged that the White House was ablaze and a person was trapped inside. An official confirmed the incident to the outlet on condition of anonymity.

Responders from District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services and US Secret Service personnel quickly determined that it was a false report and called off the response.

Someone who was reached at the callback number for the 911 report indicated they did not place it, the person said, indicating it was likely spoofed.

While no law enforcement team was dispatched, Noah Gray, the communications director for city fire and EMS, said that the incident was “in the same spirit” of "swatting" incidents that have increasingly targeted public officials in recent weeks.

Multiple vehicles, including fire trucks, responded to the complex following a 911 call placed shortly after 7am on Monday (AP)

A swatting incident is when a prank call is made to the emergency services to set up a response to a specific location, such as the home of a politician or other public figure, with the aim of getting the authorities, possibly a SWAT team, to appear at the address.

President Joe Biden was not in residence at the White House at the time of the alleged incident, but at Camp David with his family. He was due to return in the afternoon after participating in a service event in Philadelphia to mark Martin Luther King Jr Day.

In past months the number of such false reports, including of shootings at the home of political leaders, have increased, leading to calls for those who place them to face harsher penalties.

Last year the FBI created a national online database to track such events.

Those who have recently been targeted include Florida Senator Rick Scott, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Ms Greene, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.

In late December Ms Greene claimed that both of her daughters’ homes were targeted in swatting incidents, after experiencing a similar incident at her own home on Christmas Day.

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