But when they arrived there were no signs of a shooting; inside, police found a nanny with two small children. When the mother returned from shopping she found her home surrounded by emergency vehicles. The father, who had been on a plane, landed at Atlanta’s international airport to see his house on TV, with news reports declaring that his wife and children had been shot.
They were victims of a swatting attack, a malicious form of hoax where special weapons and tactics (Swat) teams are called to a victim’s home under false pretenses, with potentially deadly results.
Just more than a week later, on 25 January 2014, someone launched a second swatting attack on the same home. This time the Johns Creek police were prepared: they responded with two cruisers to make sure everything was OK.
DS Ben Finley was assigned to the case and was told to do whatever it took to find the people who did this. It would take him on a circuitous voyage that lasted nearly a year and involved dozens of local law enforcement agencies, the FBI, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The first 911 call came at 4.30pm. The caller told dispatchers that a man, woman, and boy had been shot and another child was being held hostage. Police responded in force, sending more than half a dozen cruisers and emergency vehicles to a sprawling house in the affluent Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek.