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White House targeted by swatting call, latest in nationwide trend

A significant number of emergency personnel responded to the White House on Monday morning after a 911 call falsely claimed there was a fire and someone was trapped inside, a source familiar with the incident told CNN.

President Joe Biden spent the weekend at Camp David and was not on White House grounds during the incident.

The call, which was traced to a fake number, was made at 7:03 a.m. ET. Multiple DC Fire and EMS units were sent to the White House.

A significant DC Fire and EMS response was already on site when the call was determined to be a false alarm, the source told CNN. The Secret Service declined to comment, directing inquiries to DC Fire and EMS.

Monday’s false call was swiftly determined to be a “swatting” incident, the source said, marking another troubling example of a dangerous trend.

Swatting is a dangerous criminal hoax where a false report is made to police with the express purpose of luring them to a location, where they are led to believe a horrific crime such as a mass shooting, an imminent bombing or hostage taking has been committed or is in progress. This can result in a forceful response from local police and SWAT teams, who have no way to know the call is a hoax.

The calls have targeted a variety of federal officials, politicians and celebrities across the country. Recent targets include Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, the New York judge overseeing the $370 million civil fraud trial against Donald Trump, and the DC judge overseeing Trump’s federal election subversion case.

The results can be deadly. In 2017, Andrew Finch was killed by police after a group of online gamers – later imprisoned – took part in calling 911 to report a man at his residence shot his father in the head, and was holding his mother and brother at gunpoint, threatening to set the home ablaze

Dispatch radio audio from Monday’s incident at the White House indicates multiple DC fire engines and medical responders were sent to the scene.

“Fire in the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” the dispatcher said at 7:04 a.m. ET. The situation was described as “all clear” less than ten minutes later at 7:15 a.m.

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