Charges laid in swatting calls, including one man linked to 86 incidents

Calgary police have charged two men for unrelated swatting calls, including one man accused of making 86 calls to police, 23 of which were serious enough to warrant charges. 

Swattting is when someone calls police to report a fictitious serious incident in an effort to get police to converge on a particular address. 

Police say they received 23 swatting calls in the East Village between June 4 and July 4 “where the caller stated he was a witness of a crime involving a weapon, or a medical emergency.”

The caller would often stay on the line and observe the reaction for up to 30 minutes, according to police.

An investigation was launched and during a swatting call on July 4, police say they were able to locate the suspect in a building on the 600-block of Sixth Avenue S.E.

A search of the home turned up what police say were electronic items that were seized. 

Zachary James Jakeman, 25, has been charged with 35 offences “related to public mischief and making a false statement,” and was also arrested on an outstanding warrant, according to police. 

In addition to the calls he’s been charged for, police believe Jakeman could be responsible for eight additional swatting calls in southwest Calgary this spring and 55 additional calls to 911 since September 2018.

“Although these additional calls did not meet the threshold for criminal charges, each call required emergency dispatch and police resources,” reads a news release. 

Second arrest

The second man charged was involved in one incident in downtown Calgary on Sept. 26.

Police say they received multiple calls of a man with a gun in an office tower on the 600-block of Third Avenue S.W. 

“Staff within the building enacted emergency lockdown procedures, forcing 50 to 60 employees to either hide in their offices, or flee the building,” reads the release. 

“Police responded to the undetermined threat, closing roads in the area and clearing the building.”

Shing Lam, 31, was arrested on Oct. 2 and charged with making a false statement and public mischief for the incident, according to police. 

Police say the costs associated with swatting calls are significant and that they were able to quantify some of those costs due to the sheer numbers of calls tied to Jakeman. 

According to the news release, a total of 86 resulted in:

  • Approximately 612 service hours for officers at a cost of $82,720
  • 36 people from six teams were involved in the investigation for a cost of $97,587
  • Total cost for the operation, based on a “conservative estimate” is approximately $180,308

“Swatting calls are costly. They endanger the public, our officers and divert limited emergency resources from people who really do need help,” said Staff Sgt. Jodi Gach in a news release.

“We have no choice but to respond as though every call we get is real, and even though we are glad these serious incidents turn out to be fake, there is still a very real cost to Calgarians.”