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Waterloo regional police investigate rise in 'swatting calls'

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Waterloo Regional Police Services (WRPS) are investigating after four swatting calls made in the last few weeks with two on the same day.

Swatting is a form of cyber harassment where someone makes a prank call to fool emergency services into sending a team to respond to the supposed emergency.

“It’s very alarming obviously to our police service, you know, there’s a lot of resources that go into these investigations. There’s a lot of concern for the public,” said Insp. Kyle Lambert, who is with criminal investigations at WRPS.

Police responded to a business located near Sunrise Shopping Centre in Kitchener Thursday night after they received a call that someone was planning on committing an act of violence on police and members of the public.

Through their investigation, they confirmed the call was a fake and “intended to initiate an emergency response.”

This is the second fake emergency call that was made to police in the same day.

Earlier in the day, police responded to the Kitchener Market after receiving a weapon-related call.

According to police, the caller said they intended to bring a gun to the market and start shooting.

Police determined the call came from out of the country and it was a swatting call.

There were no injuries reported.

“Those officers at times could be doing other things in the community to keep it safe. But now they’re tied up doing this in a totally ridiculous set of circumstances,” says Chris Lewis, CTV’s public safety analyst and the former commissioner of Ontario Provincial Police.

Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute, located nearby, was placed in a hold and secure for about 30 minutes as a precaution. It was lifted once the call was determined to be false, said police in a news release Thursday.

The calls are both under investigation at this time.

Whether the two threats on Thursday are connected is still under investigation.

More swatting calls

Thursday’s incidents come just two and a half weeks after threats of violence shut down two Kitchener schools. St. Mary’s High School was closed for two days, and Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute for one, until police said they did not believe there were any safety concerns.

Police said both those calls were determined to be swatting.

They also believe the same person was behind both school threats.

“We believe those two are connected. And we’re still taking investigative steps to determine who that person was that called,” said Lambert.

Catching who is responsible may be difficult.

“It’s almost as unique as a dodo bird to catch a lot of the people doing this,” criminal defence lawyer Ari Goldkind told CTV News.

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