The Missoula Police Department took a report Monday morning from a man claiming he’d just shot someone in a downtown apartment and was holding several hostages.
"The male demanded a $20,000 ransom. So, officers from the Missoula Police Department, the sheriff’s department and the FBI responded,” says Missoula Police Lieutenant Bob Bouchee.
After checking with the apartment’s renter, the investigation determined the report was a hoax. Missoula law enforcement was the victim of a dangerous prank called "swatting."
"Yeah, that’s the term that is used. It’s an issue that law enforcement agencies have come across around the country, and unfortunately, we were a victim of it today."
The false report claimed the incident took place at the corner of Pattee and Broadway streets. Armed officers cordoned off several blocks around that corner for about an hour Monday morning.
Bouchee says no weapons were pointed at innocent victims and nobody was hurt.
The investigation continues, but police say these can be difficult to pursue. That’s because perpetrators frequently use sophisticated equipment to mask their true phone numbers.