Crime

Police: Hoax caller reports shooting at Bellingham apartment

A hoax call of a shooting at The Edge apartments, 950 Lincoln St., early Monday, March 28, resulted in a major police response. By late morning all was calm, but police were on scene for about three hours before ensuring no such incident happened.
A hoax call of a shooting at The Edge apartments, 950 Lincoln St., early Monday, March 28, resulted in a major police response. By late morning all was calm, but police were on scene for about three hours before ensuring no such incident happened. chutton@bhamherald.com

A man faked a report that he’d shot his father and taken his children hostage in the early morning hours of Monday, March 28, at an apartment on Lincoln Street, according to Bellingham police.

The hoax call to a police dispatch center led to a major response at 12:11 a.m. at The Edge apartments at 950 Lincoln St., said Bellingham Police Sgt. Mike Scanlon.

On the phone the man said he’d shot his father, tied up his children, and that life wasn’t worth living, according to police. He gave an address and his supposed name — though a man by that name isn’t a current resident of that apartment.

Shortly after he hung up, Scanlon said, dispatchers took another call from a man claiming he’d heard a gunshot at the complex on Lincoln. That caller gave a different name but had a similar voice.

Ambulances were called in. Their crews waited until the scene was secure. Meanwhile, a SWAT team geared up at the police station.

Neighbors heard police on a loudspeaker ordering the residents to come out with their hands up.

Surprised tenants in the apartment complied with orders and let police search inside. There was no sign of a shooting.

Two other units in the complex have a different mailing address but an identical apartment number. Those units were checked, too, with the same results.

This kind of hoax “ties up a lot of resources” that could be needed in a real emergency, Scanlon said. On Monday, police remained on scene until past 3 a.m.

False reporting of a serious incident to provoke a police raid is commonly known as “swatting,” a dangerous kind of prank harassment that often targets celebrities and online gamers.

Bellingham detectives are investigating who made the phone calls. Tips can be directed to the police department at 360-778-8800 or cob.org/tips.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

  Comments