Congresswoman Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, who’s called for better enforcement of laws against online harassment, says someone called police Sunday night to falsely report an active shooter at her home. Clark told the Boston Globe that officers descended on her front lawn, some armed with long guns.
Clark has successfully urged the Department of Justice to devote more time to investigating and prosecuting severe online harassment, specifically calling out the terrifying threats directed at Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian by Gamergate fans. For her trouble, as the Globe was first to report, she was the victim of swatting, where someone calls in a false report of an active shooter or other dangerous emergency. It’s designed to provoke a heavily armed police response, and can be deadly.
Melrose Police spokesman John Guilfoil told the Globe that the department received “a recorded telephone call with a computer-generated voice” shortly before 10 p.m. on Sunday night. The caller referred to “shots fired and an active shooter” at Clark’s address.
In a statement, Clark said she, her husband, and two of her children were home at the time, and thanked the police for their “timely and professional response.”
“My family and I are grateful to Chief Lyle and the Melrose Police Department for their timely and professional response,” said Clark. “No mother should have to answer the door to the police in the middle of the night and fear for her family’s safety simply because an anonymous person disagrees with her. I’m relieved that no one was hurt, but the sad reality is, these hoaxes known as “swatting” are a danger to victims, first responders, and our emergency preparedness. This is the exact reason that I introduced the Interstate Swatting Hoax Act – I want perpetrators to know that there are legal repercussions to their actions, and I’m committed to giving law enforcement the tools to deter these dangerous crimes.”
Clark introduced a bill in November that would make swatting a federal crime, which is probably just a fun coincidence.
Rep. Katherine Clark. Photo via AP Images