Online threat — but SWAT team raids wrong house
18-year-old was watching Food Network when door came down, stun grenade went off
Imagine you’re sitting at home, comfortable on the couch, watching the Food Network, when all of a sudden a heavily armed SWAT team breaks down your door and storms into your living room.
That’s what happened to 18-year-old Stephanie Milan, who was watching TV in her family’s Evansville, Ind., home last Thursday (June 22), when a team of police officers broke down her storm door — the front door was already open — and tossed a flash-bang stun grenade into the room.
“The front door was open,” Ira Milan, Stephanie’s grandfather and the property owner, told the Evansvile Courier & Press. “To bring a whole SWAT team seems a little excessive.”
Turns out, however, that the SWAT team had the address wrong.
The Courier & Press said the police had been investigating “anonymous and specific online threats made against police and their families on the website topix.com,” and had obtained a search warrant for the Milan house. An Evansville police officer said one of the threats that came from the Milan household mentioned explosives and said, “Evansville is going to feel the pain.”
Whoever made these threats, the Courier & Press said, likely remotely routed them through the Milan’s open Wi-Fi connection, which means it could have been used from an outside location. It’s possible the Milans, or specifically Stephanie, were targets of “swatting,” a particularly nasty prank by which the perpetrator — often through hoax 911 calls — tricks a SWAT team into raiding a house of his choosing.
Last July, Parry Aftab, a prominent Internet security advocate, became the victim of such an attack. Police swarmed her northern New Jersey home after pranksters placed a 911 call through a computer that cloned her number and said a man had killed four people and was holding another hostage in her house.