Law enforcement agencies review swatting procedures

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

When Wichita police rushed to Andrew Finch’s home last week, they thought they’d find the man behind a 9-1-1 call, who had told the operator that his father was accidentally shot, and that a brother, sister and the mother were being held hostage. He also later threatened to set the house on fire and told the operator he had weapons.

When the door opened, they assumed the man there made that call. Instead, Andrew Finch who was completely innocent answered the door. It wasn’t until after an officer shot him when he lowered his arm, did they realize the whole incident was a prank called swatting.

Investigators said the real caller was 1300 miles away in California.

"These cases are difficult to investigate because they happen online and these hackers often times are very sophisticated about covering up their identity," said Areva Martin, a Civil Rights Attorney in an interview with ABC News.

Swatters can use cell phone apps to hide their numbers, technology to hide their voices and can even bounce their signals to try and hide from investigators.

Swatting got it’s name because, usually, a suspect does it to trigger a SWAT response. Typically it’s used to make bomb threats, rarely is it ever deadly.

Pranksters have targeted Wichita before. In 2015, Wichita police had a call from a person who claimed he shot his girlfriend and would shoot his parents if officers approached the home.

20 police surrounded the home but while investigating, police learned it was a prank.

Noe one was ever arrested for making the call.

The Wichita Police Department doesn’t have a policy to deal with swatting. However, 911 operators in Washington State are now being trained to ask callers specific questions repeatedly and rapidly. The idea is that a suspect couldn’t make up answers fast enough.

Finch’s family said that the response to her son’s house was nothing short of murder.

“The cops cannot go around shooting people without consequences,” she said. “They cannot do that."

The FBI estimates about 400 swatting calls are made each year.

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