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Senator with anti-swatting bill is victim of hoax emergency call

April 19, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy

A state Senator who has legislation that would increase the penalties for hoax 911 calls known as "swatting" was himself the victim of such a prank call Friday.

Police received an anonymous text message sent through an operator that reported a shooting at the Torrance home of Democratic state Sen. Ted Lieu while the lawmaker was away but his wife was home. It turned out to be a hoax call.

The 1:10 p.m. call reported "shots fired and a female down at Mr. Lieu's residence," said Torrance Police Department Sgt. Robert Watt. Responding officers "determined that it was a bogus call," that nobody had been shot.

Lieu said he was in Orange County when he got a call from the police. "They said they had received a call that I had shot my wife, and I assured them that I didn't do that," Lieu said.

The senator said he was unable to reach his wife for 20 minutes and had thoughts that someone had hurt her. "It was scary," Lieu said. "There was a rather large, armed response to my house by the police."

Many celebrities, including Justin Timberlake and Rihanna, have been the victims of similar hoax calls, known as swatting because the aim of the prankster is to get the heavily armed SWAT team to respond to the target's house.

Lieu said the incident Friday made him even more committed to a bill that would make those convicted of such hoaxes responsible for paying for the cost of the police response, which can run into the thousands of dollars.

"I feel more determined than ever to pass legislation to deter swatting," he said.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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