9-1-1 hoax snares conservative blogger

11:28 PM, Jun 8, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA, Ga. -- The Bibb County Sheriff's Office released, on Friday, the 9-1-1 call from a man claiming, falsely, that he murdered his wife.

During the call, the man gave the address of a conservative, political blogger, Erick Erickson, as if it were his address, and hung up.

Deputies showed up at Erickson's home, only to find out that everyone was fine.  The call was a hoax, from someone who doesn't live there.

The caller was "SWAT-ing," trying to get law enforcement, possibly including the SWAT team, to show up at a target's house with guns drawn.

It's not the first time it's happened.

The targets of the pranks -- conservative bloggers.

Imagine Erickson's surprise, a week ago Sunday, May 27, when Sheriff's deputies showed up at his home in Bibb County thinking he had just murdered his wife.

Erickson is editor-in-chief of RedState.com, and he hosts a political talk show week nights on WSB Radio in Atlanta.

Deputies immediately responded to the 9-1-1 caller's "confession" in the brief call, which was received at 8:21 pm.

The 9-1-1 recording was released Friday.

9-1-1 Dispatcher: "Bibb County Sheriff's Department."
Caller: "Yes, I'd like to turn myself in...."

The dispatcher started to tell the caller how and where he could turn himself in, but the caller responded, "I can't come down there, right now."

And before the dispatcher could ask why the caller wanted to turn himself in, the caller suddenly said, "I just shot my wife, so.... I don't think I could come down there.... She's dead, now.... I'm looking at her.... I'm going to shoot someone else, soon." The caller had given Erickson's address before hanging up.

"It's surreal to hear someone calmly pretending to be me, saying they've shot my wife," Erickson told CNN's Don Lemon during an interview from CNN studios in Atlanta that was telecast Friday afternoon.

Erickson told Lemon that this was at least the third time someone had targeted conservative bloggers, across the country, by "SWAT-ing" them -- calling 9-1-1 to report bogus crimes in order to get SWAT teams to storm the targets' homes.

"The police showed up and came into the driveway, blue lights flashing," Erickson said.

It wasn't the SWAT team, this time, that showed up at Erikson's home, according to the incident report from the Bibb County Sheriff's Office.  But in the moments before the responding deputies realized that the call was a hoax, Erickson said, the situation was potentially dangerous for him and his family.

One of the deputies, he said, "comes up the driveway with his hand on his gun as my three-year-old is in the driveway, keeps his distance behind the trunk of the first police car and, we've come to find out, now -- last night -- there were actually police surrounding the house as they were investigating."

Erickson is praising the Bibb County Sheriff's deputies for the way they handled the call and how they responded. And he said he is glad that, this week, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, (R) GA, wrote Attorney General Eric Holder, asking him to investigate the "SWAT-ing" calls as attacks on those who are exercising free speech.

"Threats and intimidation have no place in our national political discourse," Chambliss wrote. He asked Holder to respond by the end of the month.

In Erickson's case, the Bibb County Sheriff's Office is already investigating, trying to track the source of the hoax 9-1-1 call.

"This happens in third-world plutocracies and banana republics," Erickson said. "This is the United States. It shouldn't happen here."

Erickson said one common thread of the three "SWAT-ing" calls -- the three of which he is aware -- is that all three people targeted by the calls had written critically about a convicted felon named Brett Kimberlin. Kimberlin currently raises money for liberal causes, and Erickson described him in one of his blogs as "a low-level Democratic activist," and called him the Speedway Bomber "turned left-wing activist."

"I don't actually think it's [Kimberlin]" on the 9-1-1 calls, Erickson told CNN's Lemon. "It's the same voice on all the 9-1-1 calls," Erickson believes.  "Someone who, I guess, likes him decided to do it."

"I had never even heard of Erick Erickson until a couple of days ago," FoxNews.com quotes Kimberlin as saying. "I have nothing to do with the SWAT-ing of anybody."

CNN's Lemon asked Erickson, "Do you think it's a bit premature to start claiming it's some sort of liberal plot against conservatives?"

"I don't think so," Erickson said, "in that these are the three public ones, but there are other incidents following similar patterns" of harassment against conservative bloggers, incidents that are not receiving as much publicity. 

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