In addition to featuring prominently in Law and Order‘s upcoming Gamergate episode, the practice of swatting (falsifying claims with the aim of sending armed law enforcement to a target’s house) is gaining more national attention following the raid of 27-year-old veteran and Twitch streamer Joshua Peters’ home and the unrelated arrest of 19-year-old swatter Brandon Wilson.
According to The Guardian, Peters (Koopatroopa787 on Twitch) was playing Clash of Clans and Runescape for an audience of nearly 60,000 viewers when armed members of the Minnesota St. Cloud police department were dispatched to his house after receiving a phone-call that someone “had shot their roommate and now they were pointing their gun at them” at Peters’ residence. The police reportedly heard “two gun shots” before the call ended.
Peters, who told The Guardian “there’s no possible persons who I can think would do something like this to me,” addressed his Twitch followers after the attack, saying,
I see you posting my address. I had police point a gun at my little brothers because of you. They could have been shot, they could have died. Because you chose to swat my stream. I don’t give a shit about what you have against me, or what I did to you. For that I am at a loss for words. Your gripe is with me. But do not involve my family in this. They don’t deserve it.
Peters explained to The Guardian,
There’s not a lot of things that can get me emotional in this world… but it’s been a process getting back in my feet. Today was the first day where everything went smoothly, it was very energetic, everything was going well in my stream, and then it’s like, once again: here is another hurdle to overcome.
And this is way worse than anything else I’ve had to overcome. It was like… gosh, let’s go back to the other areas I had to deal with, they were much more manageable. I’m the oldest of four brothers, and to know that a gun was pointed at my little brother? That hits home for me.
Whether or not the perpetrators intended to inflict anything more than emotional trauma on Peters and his family, harassment-via-law-enforcement can obviously have fatal results: in 2014, a Utah man was shot and killed by a SWAT team after calling a suicide hotline, while a 1-year-old was severely burned after SWAT members threw a grenade into his playpen in October of last year. For African-American male targets, swatting obviously comes with additional terrifying implications.
Thankfully, at least one of the perpetrators responsible for this kind of harassment is facing repercussions: 19-year-old “Brandon Wilson,” known online as “Famed God” (!), has been arrested in Nevada and is awaiting extradition to Illinois for allegedly reporting a murder to Naperville, Illinois police in July 2014. According to Polygon, Wilson also threatened the banking and Social Security accounts of his gamer target and is suspected in multiple swatting incidents across the U.S.
Hopefully, Wilson’s arrest will set a precedent and serve as a deterrent for prospective swatters. In an ideal world, law enforcement would also be able to intervene in online abuse like the kind faced daily by many of the devs targeted by Gamergate without harassment needing to escalate into IRL consequences first.
Originally posted on The Mary Sue