Menlo Park Police Department detectives are investigating a false report of a double homicide on Saturday as a "swatting" incident, spokeswoman Nicole Acker confirmed Tuesday.
According to Acker, someone called the police department shortly before 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 and said he had killed his parents with an AR-15 assault weapon. Officers went to a home in the 2300 block of Tioga Drive in the Sharon Heights neighborhood, and "had the occupants of the residence exit," Acker said in an email.
After making contact with the residents and checking the home's interior, officers determined the call was a false report, Acker said. The suspect has not been identified, and the case has been turned over to detectives.
Acker said the preliminary investigation indicates this was a case of so-called swatting, in which someone files a false police report in an attempt to draw a large number of officers to a particular location. The New York Times reported in January that such incidents have become more common "in communities rich with tech companies and their billionaire executives, like the Bay Area and Seattle." In 2018, a Los Angeles man was sentenced to prison for 20 to 25 years after pleading guilty to making dozens of hoax calls reporting fake crimes, including a call in 2017 that resulted in a Kansas man being fatally shot by a police officer.
Sharon Heights residents flooded Nextdoor with reports about a heavy police presence on Tioga Drive on Saturday afternoon, saying the street had been blocked off and there were SWAT officers with assault rifles. One person reported hearing a loud bang.
"There was a large police response," Acker said. "I can’t confirm a loud banging noise, but you can imagine that when officers respond to a call as described below, they need to make sure that the whole house is searched and cleared. With the unknown threat and the possibility that there could be an armed person in the residence, all precautions were taken."