Two charged for separate swatting calls in Calgary

Two men are now facing charges for unrelated swatting calls in East Village and a downtown office highrise in recent months.

Between June 4 and July 4, police received 23 swatting calls in East Village, with the caller reporting he was witnessing a crime involving a weapon or medical emergency.

The caller would stay on the line with the call taker for up to 30 minutes and would watch the police response.

Swatting calls are when someone falsely reports a serious incident, like a shooting or hostage taking, in an effort to garner a large police response to a particular address.

Police launched a coordinated investigation and during the July 4 call, they were able to locate a suspect in a residence in the 600 block of 6th Avenue S.E.

A search warrant was later executed at the residence, where police seized a number of electronic devices.

Investigators believe the same suspect may be responsible for eight additional swatting calls in southwest Calgary between April 24 and May 3, as well as 55 additional calls to 911 since September 2018.

Police say those calls didn’t meet the threshold for criminal charges but noted each required dispatching police resources.

Zachary James Jakeman, 25, is facing 35 charges relating to public mischief and making a false statement. He was also arrested on an outstanding warrant. He is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 10.

The second incident happened Sept. 26 when police received multiple reports of a man with a gun in a highrise office tower in the west end of downtown.

A lockdown was put in place at the building in the 600 block of 3rd Avenue S.W., forcing 50 to 60 employees to hide in their offices or flee.

Police closed roads in the area and cleared the building, determining there was no threat.

On Wednesday, Shing Lam, 31, was charged with making a false statement and mischief.

He is scheduled to appear in court next Oct. 22.

Police say the cost of responding to the East Village swatting calls, and the subsequent investigation, was about $180,000.

“Swatting calls are costly. They endanger the public, our officers and divert limited emergency resources from people who really do need help,” said Dist. 1 Staff Sgt. Jodi Gach.

“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.”