Medicine Hat, Alberta – On May 5, 2020, at approximately 9:15 pm, Medicine Hat 911 Communications received a report from a male in St. Louis, Missouri that a manifesto had been posted to the internet platform Reddit, which contained threats to the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. As a result, the hospital was placed on lockdown.
Medicine Hat Police Service investigators began tracing the origin of the online threat. It was determined that a 12-year-old male, who has ties to Medicine Hat, but is now living in Airdrie, Alberta, had been online gaming with persons unknown from different parts of North America. One of the other players became angry and stated that they were going to “swat” the young player.
Swatting is the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address. It is sometimes connected to online video gamers, used as a punishment or retaliation for losing, by someone who wants to frighten, upset, or cause problems for that person.
Police completed an Emergency Disclosure Request to trace the IP address associated with the threat and determined the origin of the message to be from the Seattle, Washington area, eliminating the male youth from Airdrie, AB as the suspect and making him another victim of this offence.
Once it was determined there was no credible threat to the hospital, the lockdown was lifted. With the assistance of the online platform administrators the account and threats were removed from the website.
Police are urging parents to speak to their children about the dangers of online multiplayer gaming including the importance of:
- Asking for permission before using new apps/games
- Not responding to or clicking on messages or links from someone they don’t know
- Telling parents if they come across something or someone online who makes them feel uncomfortable
- Not accepting requests from another gamer to chat on another site
Medicine Hat Police Service
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