Teen Gaming Millionaire ‘Swatted’ By PA Police

Kyle Giersdorf is a very wealthy and talented young man. He’s also very lucky. Going by the screen name “Bugha,” the 16-year-old professional gamer walked away from last month’s Fortnite World Cup in New York with a cool $3 million. Being declared “the first Fortnite World Cup solo champion” inevitably put a target on his back.

On Saturday, Giersdorf was comfortable in the Upper Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania, home of his parents. Live-streaming on Twitch as usual, playing Fortnite with two other players. They were about 7 hours into a match when the phone rang.

The audio feed caught Giersdorf talking to his father. “I got swatted?” He suddenly disappeared from his webcam. Over 38,000 viewers were watching at the time.

His surprised teammates played on without him. “Did he just leave mid-game?” One asked. They won the game by the time he got back. About ten minutes later he was able to tell them what happened. “I got swatted,” he exclaimed. “I was lucky because the one officer … he lives in our neighborhood.”

Swatting is a so called “prank” but it can have deadly consequences. The idea is to fool SWAT teams to raid someone’s home in response to a fake emergency. It is particularly tailored to the gaming crowd.

Upper Pottsgrove Police Corporal Albert Werner told the press that they had to take the caller seriously when he told the operator that “he was Kyle and said he had shot his father multiple times.”

They were smart enough to call first before kicking in the door. It isn’t clear if they knew ahead of time, or found out later, that the 911 call came in from outside the United States. When they called the home, Kyle’s father assured them he was just fine. He opened the front door to find the home surrounded. Things don’t always go that smoothly in these situations. The game Call of Duty was the center of a more deadly game in 2017. Tyler Barriss called Kansas Police impersonating Andrew Finch. He told police he was holding his family hostage.

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When police arrived at the home of 28-year-old Finch, a father of two, they shot him dead. Barriss is now sitting in prison on a 20 year sentence but there aren’t any specific laws against swatting.

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