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Bomb hoax ties up law enforcement
Flowery Branch incident may be part of 'swatting' trend
Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies leave the scene at a Union Church Road subdivision Monday afternoon after a kidnapping and bomb threat was reported.

Taxpayer resources were tied up for more than two hours Monday as the Hall County Sheriff's Office became the newest victim of a trendy hoax.

Hall County's SWAT team and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation spent time investigating reports of a bomb and a hostage situation at a Union Church Road home in Flowery Branch on Monday afternoon that they later determined to be false.

Police said they believe they were the victim of a nationwide trend called "swatting."

Hall Sheriff's Maj. Woodrow Tripp said the report of the hostage situation came in about 2:45 p.m. Monday via a telephone system for the hearing impaired.

The caller told 911 dispatchers that multiple people with guns entered a home in the 5300 block of Union Church Road and the family inside was being held hostage, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office.

The caller said he was underneath the house with an explosive device attached to him.

Authorities had a difficult time tracing the source of the call Monday.

Because of that, Tripp said investigators suspect the false report came from someone using a gaming device, such as an Xbox, with Internet connection.

They also suspect it came from someone who knew the affected family. The caller alleged that he was a son of the family, but deputies were later able to contact that person and determine he was out of town at school, Tripp said.

Only two people were inside the home at the time of the incident, Tripp said.

None of them were injured.

No dangerous devices were found in or underneath the residence, either.

During the investigation, motorists were blocked from traveling the road between Hampton Mill Road and Copper Creek subdivision Monday until nearly 5 p.m. One woman who waited in her car near the roadblock said the incident was keeping her from her 91-year-old husband who was home alone with dementia.

While Tripp said the Hall Sheriff's Office is still looking into who made the false report Monday, he believed the department had been a victim of a new trend in pranks called "swatting."

The prank attempts to trick dispatchers into sending an emergency response team. The trick has also been played on authorities in Barrow and Gwinnett counties, according to other published reports.

Monday's incident tied up traffic and taxpayer resources as investigators determined whether or not the hostage allegations were true.

The Sheriff's Office deployed its 10-member SWAT team, called in six people from the GBI's bomb disposal unit and sent another eight patrol officers to the scene.

Additionally, five investigators from the county's criminal investigations division investigated and two trucks from the fire department were there on standby.

"That's what we have to deal with," Tripp said.