‘Swatting’ prank targets New Jersey lawmaker proposing tougher penalties on ‘swatters’

 Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

A New Jersey lawmaker who wants to increase the penalties for making prank emergency calls that lead to police SWAT team response became the victim of “swatting.”

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty was at home on Saturday when his phone rang and a police dispatcher told him there was a report of a shooting at his address and ordered him to leave the house with his hands up.

“I look out my front door and there’s six police cars, my road is closed down, they have shotguns, and they’re wearing SWAT gear”, said Moriarty.

Moriarty believes someone who read about his proposed legislation thought it would be funny to swat him. While he was stunned by what happened, he says it only increases his resolve to toughen the penalties.

He says it was scary and gave him a dose of what’s been happening to other people around the country.

“This incident has done nothing but increase my resolve to make sure that we increase the fines and penalties for this type of sick, evil behavior. We have to send a message. We have to fine some of these people and put them in jail.”

Moriarty says local police departments might need help from federal agencies with more sophisticated technology to track down who is making those swatting phone calls.

A hearing on his bill is planned next month.

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