By Derrick Bryson Taylor
Two weeks ago, Kyle Giersdorf won $3 million in a Fortnite competition in New York. Over the weekend, his home was the target of a fake crime report to the police, officials said.
Kyle, who plays online as “Bugha,” was livestreaming a game of Fortnite on Twitch on Saturday when he blurted out that his home in Upper Pottsgrove Township in Pennsylvania was being “swatted,” referring to the phenomenon where someone makes a false report about a crime to force a response from the authorities.
Kyle, 16, stepped away from the game and returned minutes later.
“That is definitely a new one,” he said, according to a Twitch clip. “I got swatted.”
“Dude, they come in with guns, bro,” he said. “That’s scary. What if I just got popped?”
Kyle did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The police were dispatched by a call just after 11 p.m. on Saturday in regards to a possible shooting, according to a statement from the Upper Pottsgrove Township Police Department.
“The caller informed dispatch that he shot his father and had his mother tied up in the garage,” the release said.
Officers responded and a phone call was placed to the home, where Kyle’s father, Glenn Giersdorf, answered, Albert Werner, a police corporal, said Tuesday.
“He came out the door and it was over,” he said.
“After determining that all residents were not harmed and there was no threat to anyone in the area police cleared the incident,” the release said.
Werner said a SWAT team never showed up to a residence in Upper Pottsgrove Township, a 5-1/2-square-mile area with more than 5,000 residents, but said officers from different agencies responded.
The call may have come from someone in Europe, Werner said, and hoax calls like these can divert emergency workers away from real urgent matters.
“You have officers responding, lights and sirens, more than the average speed,” he said. “Not only that, if we’re there doing all of this, we can’t be somewhere else, helping someone else out if there is another crime committed or injury. That’s basically the issue.”
Upper Pottsgrove Township does not get many prank calls. The last swatting call occurred more than five years ago, Werner said.
Swatting, intended as a hoax, has sometimes had deadly consequences.
In November, a California man pleaded guilty to making dozens of hoax phone calls in which he reported fake crimes. One of the calls placed by the man, Tyler Barriss, resulted in a man being fatally shot by a police officer in Wichita, Kansas. Barriss is serving 20 to 25 years in prison for the hoax.
Months earlier, a caller falsely reported there was someone with a weapon inside the home of David Hogg, a survivor of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. SWAT teams and other authorities arrived to Hogg’s residence only to discover no one was there.
This week, a man from New Mexico, Stephen Scott Landes, pleaded guilty to making interstate bomb threats against an elementary school and a Walmart in Delaware, according to The Associated Press. He had made false reports about planting bombs, prosecutors said. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
When asked if there are any security measures that Kyle and his family should be taking in regards to his new fame, Werner said he thought it was all “settling down.”
“We really didn’t get a lot of attention,” he said.
“They had called us prior to coming home” after Kyle’s big Fortnite win, Werner said, “and asked for extra patrols and we did. And we haven’t had anything until this. Actually there’s been very little attention in this area.”