Calgary

Charges laid in swatting calls, including one man linked to 86 incidents

Two Calgarians face charges tied to swatting, including a young man accused of calling police 86 times to report fictitious serious incidents in a bid to get them to converge on specific addresses.

2 men were arrested in unrelated cases that police estimate cost taxpayers about $180,300

Police say two men have been charged for separate swatting incidents. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Calgary police have charged two men for unrelated swatting calls — including one young man accused of calling police 86 times with 23 incidents considered serious enough to warrant charges. 

Swatting is when someone calls police to report a fictitious serious incident in an effort to get police to converge on a particular address. 

Police say they received 23 swatting calls in the East Village between June 4 and July 4 "where the caller stated he was a witness of a crime involving a weapon, or a medical emergency." 

The caller would often stay on the line and observe the reaction for up to 30 minutes, according to police.

An investigation was launched and during a swatting call on July 4, police say they were able to locate the suspect in a building on the 600 block of Sixth Avenue S.E.

Electronic items were seized when police searched the home.

Zachary James Jakeman, 25, has been charged with 35 offences "related to public mischief and making a false statement," and was also arrested on an outstanding warrant, according to police. 

Police said the same caller could be responsible for eight additional swatting calls in southwest Calgary this spring and 55 additional calls to 911 since September 2018.

"Although these additional calls did not meet the threshold for criminal charges, each call required emergency dispatch and police resources," reads a news release. 

2nd man charged after calls of gun in office tower

The second man was charged in connection with one incident in downtown Calgary on Sept. 26.

Police say they received multiple calls of a man with a gun in an office tower on the 600 block of Third Avenue S.W. 

"Staff within the building enacted emergency lock down procedures, forcing 50 to 60 employees to either hide in their offices, or flee the building," reads the release. 

"Police responded to the undetermined threat, closing roads in the area and clearing the building."

Shing Lam, 31, was arrested on Oct. 2 and charged with making a false statement and public mischief for the incident, according to police. 

Swatting calls cost taxpayers estimated $180,300

Police say the costs associated with swatting calls are significant and that they were able to quantify some of those costs due to the sheer numbers of calls tied to the person who made the 86 swatting calls. 

According to the news release, those calls:

  • Ate up about 612 service hours for officers at a cost of $82,720.
  • Involved another 36 people from six teams in the investigation for a cost of $97,587.
  • Totalled costs, based on a "conservative estimate," of about $180,300.

"Swatting calls are costly. They endanger the public, our officers and divert limited emergency resources from people who really do need help," said Staff Sgt. Jodi Gach in the news release.

"We have no choice but to respond as though every call we get is real, and even though we are glad these serious incidents turn out to be fake, there is still a very real cost to Calgarians." 

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