Sep. 25—When Lodi resident Craig Troxclair came home Thursday night, he had to make a phone call to AT&T. During the phone call, another call came through.
It was a Lodi number, but Troxclair didn't want to interrupt his current call, because getting a hold of customer service can take a while.
When the call was finished, the phone rang.
"I got a call from Lodi (Police Department) dispatch, and they asked if I had any weapons," Troxclair said Friday. "Then they asked me all kinds of information, like my birthday, my address. I thought if they ask for my Social Security number, I'll know it's a scam, and I'll hang up."
That's when Troxclair decided to peek out the narrow vertical window next to his front door. He saw the red and blue flashing lights of a Lodi Police Department patrol vehicle and a couple officers out on the sidewalk.
The dispatch operator on the phone asked him to slowly walk out the front door, then walk north on Seahawk Lane, with his hands in the air. As he walked toward the curb, he saw the department's tactical vehicle parked two doors down from his house.
"When I got there, the officers asked me questions, and they were very professional," Troxclair said. "At no point did I fear for my life. It was kind of surreal. Then they mentioned 'swatting.' I had heard of it before, and I thought that might be what this was."
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, swatting is "the 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."
Troxclair said officers on scene did not disclose the nature of the call that brought them to his home, although they did say it was a Michigan phone number.
Afterward, Troxclair saw several posts on local social media pages, where residents had heard over police scanners that someone had reported a resident armed with an AK-47, prepared to shoot his wife and children.
Another post claimed that the armed man had shot his family, and another claimed he had barricaded himself in the attic, waiting for police to storm the residence and shoot him.
Troxclair's wife Liz said that during the incident, she was taking care of two grandchildren. She had no idea who her husband was talking to as he was answering personal questions, and became worried when he simply walked out the front door.
With one grandchild in her arms, she too walked outside to see what was going on. When officers saw her, they asked if she was "the wife."
When she answered, she said that's when they knew the call had been fraudulent.
"It's just sad this happened," she said. "Because the police had to call in the Sheriff to cover Lodi, since every cop in town was in this neighborhood. We have no idea why we were targeted."
The FBI has used the term "swatting" since 2008, and victims are both random targets and victims of people with personal vendettas.
In 2015, a Sentinel, Okla. police chief was injured by gunfire after receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be a resident who had planted a bomb at a local preschool.
An investigation revealed the calls did not originate from the man's residence, and state agents determined he was unaware that local police officers were trying to enter his home, according to MSNBC reports.
In 2017, a Wichita, Kan. man was shot and killed by police after a swatting incident. According to the Wichita Eagle, the man was the unintended victim of the swatting after two Call of Duty: WWII players entered into a heated argument about a $1.50 bet.
Los Angeles Police Department officers arrested a 25-year-old serial swatter in connection with the incident the next day, according to reports.
The Troxclairs have lived on Seahawk Lane for seven years, and had never had any interaction with the police, except for traffic tickets.
"Holding my hands in the air as I'm walking toward police officers felt so alien to me," he said. "But they thanked us for our cooperation, and they were very apologetic. I'm doing okay today. I think Liz is a bit shaken up still. I just hope this doesn't happen to anyone else in town."
The Lodi Police Department did not return a phone call seeking information about the incident.