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Hoax Call of Home Invasion and Shooting Draws Out SWAT and Anger on Ziegler Place

| March 30, 2016

swatting palm coast SWAT

‘Swatting’ is a hoax perpetrated through anonymous, crank calls designed to force the deployment of a SWAT team on an unsuspecting home. Above, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT team during a training exercise. (© FlaglerLive)

At 9:12 p.m. Tuesday the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s 911 center got a call claiming that two masked men had entered the house at 14 Ziegler Place at the south end of Palm Coast and shot “the grandson” inside. The caller claimed he was hiding in a closet.

The call didn’t come in to the 911 line but to the sheriff’s administrative, non-emergency line, which was the first hint to the sheriff’s office that something may be amiss: someone hiding in a closet doesn’t usually remember a police station’s administrative line (though someone calling from out of the region as a crank call would have no choice but to use an administrative line). The voice was also muffled and changed timber several times.

Analysis would have to wait, however. Deputies were immediately dispatched to the scene, even as the caller was on the phone. First there was Cpl. Daniel Weaver. The 39-year-old renter at the house, a black man, was just then appearing to be getting out of his car and walking into his garage. It was dark. There are no street lights. According to a sheriff’s spokesman, Weaver had a light shining in the man’s direction. The resident may have been blinded. Weaver identified himself as a sheriff’s deputy as he gave the man commands to stop, weapon drawn. The man–who was doing nothing wrong, may have been fearful and would later tell deputies that he thought the deputy was not a real cop–kept going into his house, closing the garage door after him.

“He saw an armed man with a flashlight,” the man’s girlfriend would later explain in an interview, “he said, ‘put your hands up, police!’ but he only had plain clothes. He thought it was George Zimmerman, one of those people who think they’re policing the neighborhood.” Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, allegedly in self defense, in Sanford four years ago, was the “neighborhood watch coordinator” for the gated community where the killing took place.

An analysis of the call to the dispatch center would later reveal that, even though the time corresponded to the cop’s encounter with the resident, there were no corresponding sounds on the call, further suggesting that it had been placed from somewhere else. Nor was there anyone else in the house but the man who’d just driven up.

Soon Ziegler Place was swarming with deputies, including the SWAT team, with Flagler County Fire Rescue units and the Palm Coast Fire Department standing by not far off.

Deputies called out on their PA system some 20 times for anyone inside to come out, according to an incident report: by then, it was likely evident that if the resident at Ziegler Place had doubted the identity of the cop earlier, there was no doubt about the identity of the police now. Still, his girlfriend said, “he was scared to come out. I’d be scared as hell, too.”

He did not call 911. His girlfriend wasn’t yet home. She would get there within the 9 o’clock hour, she said. By then the SWAT team had gone in, using a battering ram, and handcuffed the resident. A news release issued by the sheriff’s office states that it was “after approximately two hours of his refusing to make contact with deputies” that the door was rammed in.

“There were no sign of any shooting,” the incident report states. It was a hoax: whoever had called the sheriff’s office was intentionally trying to target the residents at 14 Ziegler Place. The suspects could have been anywhere–in Palm Coast or in another state.

The term for that sort of costly, potentially deadly hoax is “swatting,” designed intentionally to send a SWAT team to an unsuspecting address, with unpredictable results. The hoax achieved its aim on Ziegler Place–in damages to the house, in angering its residents and, not least, turning the man into a suspect.

“He made our job more difficult to do,” a sheriff’s spokesman said of the resident. But, the spokesman said, the sheriff’s office will consider paying for the damage. “If they ask us for damages, that’s certainly something we can look at,” he said. “Nobody has asked us to.”

Not true, says the victim’s girlfriend, who also lives at the house. “I’ve asked them to and they’re denying it,” she said. “I called three times today. Yes I did, and I do want damages. Trust me, I’m not able to afford what they did.” She added: “We’re begging them to pay the damages.”

The sheriff’s office is not without a fund that could afford just such spending: its civil forfeiture fund, drawn from money and assets seized in drug cases, is used routinely to make charitable donations of from $500 to $2,000 or more to various organizations.

“If it was a mistake, it was a mistake,” the woman said. “But at least they should pay for the damages.”

As to the “swatting” call, Sheriff Jim Manfre was quoted as saying in the release: “We have quick responses with lights and sirens and deploy specially trained deputies to address what is believed to be a high-profile incident. We have the potential for an encounter with a citizen(s) who may not know a prank has been played on them. We also have to contend with the expenses generated from the incident to include fuel, overtime and materials used to properly handle the situation. This also takes away from our normal ability to serve other citizens in a timely fashion.”

In fact, the call drew 16 deputies to the scene, requiring other calls to 911 to be prioritized over others, which could itself cause its own ripple of problems.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact the FCSO at 386-313-4911, or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-8477 (TIPS). Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible to receive a reward of up to $1,000.

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29 Responses for “Hoax Call of Home Invasion and Shooting Draws Out SWAT and Anger on Ziegler Place”

  1. anonymous says:

    Please? 16 deputies?

  2. Woody says:

    Just comply,then there would not be any damage to the house.If the resident didn’t think they were real cops wouldn’t HE call 911?

  3. all walks of life says:

    What may seem as irrational or noncompliant behavior to some may be a way of life for others. Good or bad we don’t know what the man may have been through in life to cause him not to not trust law enforcement or the situation. No matter what some of you just don’t and won’t ever get it or understand it.

  4. Shawn says:

    Yea just comply …have your rights trampled because some idiot made false allegations. ..and of course the cops will just say we were only doing our jobs….smh you people let them take your rights slowly…simple compliance leads eventually to total compliance. …pretty sad the Soviet Union is seeing more liberties as we see less and less.

  5. blondee says:

    Surely there is a way to trace the original phone call?

  6. Jrob says:

    I’m telling you!! Lmao

  7. Jrob says:

    If he called the non emergency line he must not be in this state or close by!

  8. whatwhatwhat? says:

    1) Corporal Weaver was not wearing plain clothes, he was wearing a uniform.
    2) If the man was so concerned, he would have probably called 911 to see if a real officer was at his home. Unless of course he was concerned precisely by the fact that there were real police there.
    3) Let’s imagine for a moment that there had been a real shooting inside the house and that police left even after seeing a man run inside and not respond to police for 2 hours. Let’s imagine how that article would go, and how much liability would have been on the Sheriff’s Office.
    4) The man “may have been blinded”….but “saw an armed man with a flashlight.” …okay.
    5) Why even mention the race of anyone involved?
    6) Has the FCSO not shown enough good faith that armed subjects around here are typically disarmed without lethal force?

  9. ScotchRox says:

    The resident was probably the kind of person that doesn’t call the PoPo…

  10. The Geode says:

    16 deputies? That’s nothing. I remember them raiding a house in Bunnell (Southside of course) using st. johns, Flagler and Volusia deputies, a helicopter and dogs. They blocked off streets and threatened those who lived on the street. They kicked in a door, threw in a “flash-bang grenade” and came out with a fucking “nickel bag” of weed. THAT was tax money well spent…

  11. Gail says:

    He was a black male with a swarm of cops around him. I would be nervous too that even if he came out with his hands in the air, one of those cops would pull the trigger because they “feared for their life”. Trust me, I am not pulling the race card but now a days I am seeing people being treated different by police based on the color of their skin.

  12. Dave says:

    Hoax call, somebody needs to get a large bill for the dispatch.

  13. I would be afraid to come out too says:

    I completely understand why he didn’t come out. With all the shootings by police he was probably scared for his life.

  14. David B says:

    Why is everybody so fearful of our law enforcement ? They are here to protect and serve us Just cooperate.

  15. Geezer says:

    “He made our job more difficult to do”
    –So sayeth George Zimmerman!

    All of you cowboys who answer the door with a gun-in-hand: BEWARE.
    There was an unlucky pizza delivery guy renting in Orlando recently who
    responded to what’s known as a “police knock” at about 1:00am–only
    he hadn’t called the cops. Well, it was the last time he’d answer a door….
    The police were (I believe) serving a warrant to the felon next door.
    Problem is that they knocked (banged) on the wrong door.

    “Pizza guy” opened the door grasping a pistol, and was immediately
    shot multiple times and killed. PIzza guy was just a hard worker with
    no criminal history. The police never even apologized to his family.
    The victim looked like a fellow who could depict a popular notion of
    Jesus Christ, like the prints you see on Memorial Hospital Flagler’s

    Then we have the guy in Holly Hill some time ago, who was going about
    his business, while his dogs roamed within his fenced-in property.
    At the same time a deputy was involved in a foot chase on that block
    along with his trusty K-9 leading the pursuit. The deputy improperly opens
    the homeowner’s’s fence gate, and he and the K-9 are met by the homeowner’s
    dogs, who instictively attack the K-9 as an intruder.
    The homeowner’s dogs (pitbulls) were both shot. The K-9 was rushed to a
    veterinarian, and weathered the attack. The K-9 didn’t deserve to be mauled,
    while the canine defenders were maced with no effect and died doing what
    dogs do. That scene must have been a bloody mess.

    After this trespass and the consequences it wrought, the deputy offered to get a
    shovel to bury the man’s two loyal dogs right there and then.
    Isn’t that something? Too bad that the homeowner didn’t lock and chain his
    gate to keep all intruders out.
    He never expected to be the victim of a home invasion by cop.

    Next time you hear noises in the middle of the night, and fear a home invasion–
    consider for a moment that it may be the cops. Dial 9-1-1 even though this eats
    away at time to mount a defense. You just might prevent a tragedy.

    Something for you to consider. Life has gotten very complicated, and cheap.

  16. Just me says:

    I get the homeowner being afraid when someone sneaks up on him on his own property and tells him not to move. I get going inside you own home for protection. I don’t get NOT calling 911 that a unknown person is on your property. I don’t get why he did not answer the police when they tried to contact him? Mistakes made on both parts. the sheriffs office should pay for the damage they did.

  17. r&r says:

    Why do people make excuses for these idiots and cause caos and money??

  18. Joey says:

    “Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, allegedly in self defense” its allegedly it was proven in a court of law that Trayvon was killed because he assaulted George Zimmerman and he was shot because George was legally defending himself.

  19. CJM says:

    I live across the street from where this took place. I was on my driveway and witnessed the ENTIRE incident from the beginning. The man stood in his garage while the officer was at the end of the driveway. He closed the garage knowing that someone was outside attempting to make contact with him. The man wasn’t seen again until the SWAT team went in after him. I believe he was fully aware that law enforcement was outside his residence. He could’ve taken different actions and avoided the outcome.

  20. I don't blame him says:

    Flagler county sheriff’s department must have plenty of time and money in their hands! First of all the call didn’t match up with the scene. The houses are so close on the street you could hear the neighbors dog barking! Let alone gunshots and what have you. If there was a real emergency someone would have dialed 911! I also understand cops not wanting to walk into a situation and not be prepared but 16 cops! Smh! Tgere have been too many incidents where black men beeing shot by mistake not playing the race card but it’s true! Senseless deaths everywhere! I can name a dozen! There were no witnesses for the victim. If he had walked out there and farted they would have shot him down like a dog abd said they heard gunshots! And that’s the truth! I read also that tgey were at the residence till we hours of the morning, that sure as hell wasn’t true I saw the whole team in front of the community service building on belle terre”chilling” before 1am alot of inconsistencies smh

  21. Ex Vietnam Vet says:

    945 cases last year of police “swat” teams busting in to the wrong house. Shooting the owners pets, children and spouses…….My home is MY CASTLE and its well protected….Don’t try to force your way into my residence without my permission…It will NOT be healthy for either of us !!!!

  22. IMO says:

    The police should have had the water and electricity shut off to that house and waited outside for a few days?

    People need to get real.

    I’ll give that man some benefit of the doubt as to the first Officer encounter. But when 14 Officers show up with a SWAT Team and order occupants of a house to come out 20+ times not to come out is simple arrogance or stupidity.

    When 14 Police Officers show up at your front door they are not filming a movie with actors. They are the real Sheriff Deputies. Still don’t believe they are real cops but an army of assassins dressed up like Deputies that someone sent to kill you? Then call 9-11 and ask.

  23. IMO says:

    Jusrmesays..,.The Sheriff’s Department made no mistakes. They had a call that someone had been shot and that there was a hostage in the house hiding in a closet.

    Then the guy shows up and goes in and doesn’t answer 20 directives to come out.

    So now you have 2 potential hostages.

    The Sheiff’s Department did what needed to be done. Matter of fact given the INFORMATION AND CIRCUMSTANCES they had they did nor even need to seek a warrant to enter that house.

  24. Outsider says:

    Whether the call came in on an emergency line or not, the dispatcher has a duty to treat the call as real and respond accordingly. Maybe some people have “sheriff’s office” set in speed dial, who knows, That’s not something the dispatcher should start deliberating with herself and then try to decide if it’s real or not; lives could be in jeopardy. So what if the resident appeared to be getting out of his car when the first officer got there? He could have just shot someone and was getting ready to leave but forgot his keys and had to go inside to get them. I’m sorry, but standing in the garage and then closing the door and walking in the house while a police officer is trying to communicate with you is not a normal reaction. If he truly had doubts about who was shining a flashlight at him, at gunpoint, with a police uniform on, a rational reaction would be to call 911, and ask if the police are out front. Instead, he holed himself up in the house until they had to break down the front door, still having to assume someone was in danger. The only thing that doesn’t make sense here is the response of the citizen.

  25. I don't blame him says:

    The police do what they want to do and justify their actions all the time this time is no different

  26. Anonymous says:

    It’s called swatting, and it’s so easy. Usually done by people on video games when they get wrecked on the leaderboards. This guy probably pc games. (And yes adults do game harder than most kids these days) Consoles are a lil bit harder to swat a person through since they’re protected by the console’s network. It’s a felony and yes it’s traceable. Just going to take a little time tracking where this guy went on his virtual trip. They’ll get the swatter because most ppl aren’t smart enough to cover their points, and making a call with a telephone tells me it’s a young idiot that don’t know what he/she is doing.

    Swatting is just as popular nowadays as ddosing… but not as easy.

    Remember this…the more interconnected we all become the more vulnerable we all become, it’s as easy as that. Hackers WILL end up owning everything and everyone, it’s just a matter of time.

    Get educated, because THIS can be done to anyone of you right now just by visiting a website and having an unfriendly chat.

  27. ryan says:

    FCSO made a mistake, now just pay the damages and make it right. problem solved. no room for debate on whether they should be reimbursed. as for the comment about showing good faith by getting armed suspects with nonlethal force, well, none of us have any business criticizing the killing of an armed suspect by the police.

  28. Law Abiding Citizen says:

    I can’t believe how may people are defending this person. I live on this street and everyone knew it was real cops outside. He should of never turned away in the beginning when the police officer in FULL POLICE CLOTHES approached him or he should of took the time to call the police dept/911 if he was truly in fear of his life. Instead the rest of the FAMILIES on the street were in fear that a possible murder had happened and there was crazy man with a gun at large. But I guess that doesn’t matter right because he was “scared”? I had no problem walking outside when the officer was in my yard to ask him what was going on. Would you like to know why? I hadn’t committed a crime, shocker right? IT’S THAT SIMPLE PEOPLE.
    If there would had been a murder I’m sure the same people that are on here bitching about how the cop handled everything would be bitching about the fact that it took them 2 1/2 to finally bust in his door. Best part is that home was vacant a month ago, didn’t even know someone had moved in. Welcome to the neighborhood!

  29. I don't blame him says:

    It really is a shame FCSO is refusing to pay the damages Smh

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