Lakeland Family Target Of Dangerous “Swatting” Prank

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(Lakeland, TN) A warning from the Shelby County Sheriff's office about "swatting."

It's a prank where someone uses false information to get law enforcement to use officers or SWAT teams to storm a home or business.

Deputies say there is nothing funny about it.

Two weeks ago, the sheriff's office got a call about someone being shot inside a house on Pine Point in Lakeland and others hiding in closet.

SWAT team members stormed the home and broke down the front door.

"It was just an extreme emergency situation. People were in need of assistance," said Sgt. Mickey Keaton.

However, when deputies got inside, they just found a family relaxing and sleeping inside. It turned out the family had been "swatted."

"My mother was watching the TV in the living room, my wife was upstairs in bed and my two boys were in the basement in their rooms playing Xbox," said Mike Mescher.

Mike Mescher says it all happened after his son friended someone on Skype he thought was a friend of a friend.

"Friday night, he chimed in on Skype and asked my son what he was doing and he said he was playing Xbox and he said what are you doing? The next thing Mason looked up on the computer screen and saw a bunch of personal information, our addresses, phone number, email addresses, and Mason asked what are you doing? He said I'm bored and you are about to get 'swatted,'" said Mescher.

Forty-five minutes later, deputies were coming through the door.

Mescher wasn't there when it happened, but knows just how dangerous it could have been.

"Eventually, somebody is going to get hurt," said Mescher.

The call was traced to the U.K. Mescher says this should serve as a wake-up call to all parents about online safety.

"If your kids play Xbox or are on the World Wide Web, don't let them be friends with people they don't know," said Mescher.

The FBI estimates there are around 400 "swatting" attacks a year.