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Couple playing video game tourney ‘swatted;’ had no idea police were outside house for hours

Posted at 9:50 PM, Sep 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-15 10:29:56-04

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. -- A couple engrossed in a video game tournament said they had no idea of the real-life chaos unfolding outside their Midlothian home Friday night after a "swatting" call was made to police.

Police said someone phoned in an anonymous tip Friday night about a crime at the couple's home in the 2200 block of Wing Haven Place. Officers later discovered around 1 a.m. Saturday that the incident was a "swatting" hoax.

Andrew Kristensen and his wife, Judi, said they were doing what they do on most nights: playing video games.

"We're on the streaming channel Twitch," Andrew Kristensen explained. "We have like a channel. We're playing games, hanging out with friends online."

That nightly hobby was even more special because the couple was hosting an Apex Legends tournament.

Andrew and Judi Kristensen

Andrew and Judi Kristensen

Wife: 'There was a helicopter shouting his name'

Andrew Kristensen later learned someone called police and said "there had been a murder here and that people were being held hostage."

"They closed the street," Judi Kristensen said. "There was a helicopter shouting his name."

In fact, the couple said police had been outside their house for two hours, but the pair was "in the zone" with their headphones on, and had no clue officers were outside with their guns drawn.

"They had called us multiple times apparently, but we don't typically have our phones on," Andrew Kristensen said.

Kristensen said his brother finally managed to reach him.

"I answer the phone and he said, 'Dude, I think you've been "swatted!"'" he recalled.

What is 'swatting?'

Miles Turner, a senior consultant with Law Enforcement Consulting, LLC, defined "swatting" as when someone uses a different phone number to call police to report "an in progress crime that's not actually occurring" at a completely different address.

The crime comes with serious consequences.

"You're talking federal activity and it's worth noting that it's a lot easier to find these people than most folks realize," Turner said.

"Walk to us," officers can be heard saying in video.

"Walk to us," officers can be heard saying in video.

'They made us come out, hands up'

Once the couple realized what was going on, they came out of the home's front door with their hands up.

"Walk to us," officers can be heard saying in video from the couple's doorbell camera.

"We slowly walked out," Judi Kristensen recalled.

Andrew Kristensen said officers completed a thorough search of every room in their house, including their gaming room, which was still streaming at the time and captured their dog jumping as an officer inspected the room.

Officer inspects couple's gaming room.

Officer inspects couple's gaming room.

While the couple is still coming to grips with what unfolded, they said the scare will not hamper their passion for gaming.

"We'll definitely be back at it, but maybe with just a little more caution as far as keeping an eye on what's happening in the real world at the same time," Andrew Kristensen said.

Police told WTVR CBS that "swatting" is not only extremely dangerous, but it also diverts manpower and resources.

Officials said the incident remains under investigation.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can submit a news tip here.