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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Reported shooting a hoax by online gamer
Police: ‘swatting’ prank was retaliation against L.B. teen who won Call of Duty
Bill Kelly/Herald
A Nassau County Police Department SWAT team entered a home on Laurelton Boulevard Tuesday after a false 911 call was made to police claiming that a teenager had shot his mother and brother.

The action became very real for a 17-year-old Long Beach resident who was playing the video game Call of Duty on Tuesday, after a bitter online opponent called police and falsely claimed that the teen had fatally shot his mother and brother in his Laurelton Boulevard home.

Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said that the teenager had just won a round of the popular multi-player online game. But when a losing rival claiming to be the teen called police to report the fictional incident, it prompted a massive response — including a fully armed Nassau County SWAT team with an armored vehicle and a helicopter unit — to what was initially believed to be a multiple shooting and hostage situation at the home, north of West Hudson Street.

Tangney said that when police arrived at the house at around 3 p.m., 17-year-old Long Beach High School student Rafael Castillo was still playing the game on Xbox while wearing a headset, and had no idea what was happening outside.

“He was quite stunned — he was very shaken up by it,” Tangney said, adding that the police response could cost roughly $100,000.

More than 50 county, Long Beach and MTA police officers and firefighters responded to the home. Nearby streets were blocked off as police vehicles rushed to scene. The standoff lasted more than an hour and attracted crowds of onlookers who said they learned about the incident on social media.

“I was in shock,” said Scott Rodriguez, who lives next door. “I was hearing all sorts of rumors about a hostage situation and shotguns. It was just insane.”

“I heard it on Twitter,” said Long Beach High student James O’Donohue, who was at the scene with friends after rumors had circulated that their schoolmate had murdered his family. “They tweeted that [police] had the house surrounded.”

Castillo’s mother, Maria, said she was making coffee in the kitchen when she saw police officers outside with their guns drawn, telling her to get out of the house.

“He told me, ‘Go out! Go out!’” she told reporters. “I [said], ‘What happened?’ They said, ‘Somebody killed somebody in your house.’ I told the police my kid’s home, my kid’s on the computer. He don’t know what happened.”

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