Brevard County veteran becomes victim of 'swatting' hoax

FOX 35 News at 11 p.m.

- Army veteran Mark Ciervo, 50, recounts the terrifying events from two days ago, when officers surrounded his home on Hopi Drive in Melbourne.  “They told me to come out with my hands up, so I walk out the the street with my hands up, with the house phone in my hand,” Ciervo said.

Melbourne Police had his house surrounded and told him to come out side with his hands up -- after they received a disturbing 911 call.  “I have an RPG, two fours, and I have all kinds of sub machine guns and machine guns,” the caller told the 911 operator.  “Okay and what are you going to do with them?” the 911 operator asked. “You’re going to send me $10,000 or more, and you’re going to leave otherwise I’m going to kill my whole neighborhood,” said the 911 caller.

The call came into Melbourne Police Department around 9:20 p.m. Monday. At one point, it even sounds like guns are being fired in the background during the call. The caller listed Ciervo’s home address as the place he was calling from.

“They initially set up around the house like would on any type of call of that nature,” said Officer Brian Hart of the Melbourne Police Department. Officers quickly realized that Ciervo was actually the victim in the incident. “At that point, they kind of realized that the information that had been called in wasn’t true, that it was mostly likely going to fall under what’s recently been known as a 'swatting' hoax,” Hart said.

Ciervo was a victim of swatting, where an unknown person uses an untraceable number to call officers to someone else's house. “Swatting is dangerous for everybody. It’s dangerous for the homeowner mostly because they don’t know that they’re going to be the victim of it. It’s dangerous for police officers responding,” Hart said.

Officers are trying to follow up on leads as to who carried out the hoax. Meanwhile Ciervo says the incident has devastated his family. “It put me in a lot of pain; it put me in a lot of anguish," Ciervo said.

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