There were at least three fake bomb threats, or ‘swatting’ incidents, at the Chilliwack Law Courts in 2018. A huge police presence was in the Eastern Hillsides on Jan. 7 after another swatting incident, according to RCMP. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

‘Swatting’ incident leads to huge police presence in Chilliwack’s Eastern Hillsides

Mounties say no shots were fired despite claims on social media

No, there was not a police shootout in the Eastern Hillsides on Sunday.

A number of Facebook pages lit up on Jan. 6 with people noting a huge police presence in a Ramsay Place neighbourhood off Marble Hill Road and claims that police were exchanging gunfire with someone.

While there was a large police presence there was no gunfire.

And the only crime committed was public mischief in the form of what is known as “swatting.”

Swatting is the term used to describe prank calls to police used either to distract or create fear and havoc by deceiving police into showing up in force at a particular address.

• RELATED: Yet another bomb threat at the Chilliwack Law Courts

Chilliwack RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail confirmed Monday the incident on Sunday was swatting. Mounties don’t like to give details on swatting or bomb threat incidents to avoid copycats.

What Rail did confirm was that it is a serious matter that diverts a lot of police resources from actual police work. He added that it is a criminal offence.

Swatting falls under section 140 of the Criminal Code of Canada under public mischief. It is an indictable offence and is punishable by up to five years in jail.

Whenever there is a large police presence, there is a subsequent discussion on local “beware”-style Facebook pages. What likely caused further concern on Jan. 6 was a person who claimed to actually witness police shooting.

A woman said she was in her vehicle with her baby when an officer told her she could drive through the area.

“[O]ther officers were starting to shoot and more were getting into position and the shots were going off so I put my brakes on,” she wrote in part.

But there were no shots fired.

Police are investigating the source of the prank call.

• RELATED: Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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