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Taunton Police investigating murder hoax call that evacuated 4 homes



TAUNTON — Chief Edward J. Walsh reports that the Taunton Police Department is actively investigating after a large police request was summoned by a hoax 911 call reporting an act of violence.

At 3:11 p.m., Taunton Police received a 911 call from a VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) phone in which a male caller told dispatchers he had murdered his girlfriend and was intending to then harm himself at a home on Williams Street.

Out of an abundance of caution, and following established policies and procedures, a police, fire and emergency medical response ensued, including a summoning of mutual aid from police departments that comprise the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (SEMLEC) and its SWAT team and trained police negotiators.

Four neighboring homes were also evacuated as a precaution.

No one appeared to be inside the home in question when police arrived. After an investigation, police made contact with the actual resident, who was in another city at the time and reported that he was unaware of anything out of the ordinary occurring at his home.

Police soon determined that the call was a hoax and that no one was harmed inside the home. Police made a sweep of the area and subsequently allowed residents to return home after approximately two hours.

The incident being investigated by the Taunton Police Department as an act of “swatting,” which according to Oxford Language is “the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.” The phrase entered the dictionary in 2015 and has been recognized as a criminal phenomenon by the FBI since at least 2008.

“Swatting is an extremely dangerous practice that misallocates and ties up vital police and emergency resources, pulling them away from where they may be needed to aid in a real emergency,” Chief Walsh said.

No one was injured and police cleared the scene by 5:30 p.m. The hoax call is under investigation.

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