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False alarms aren't funny, especially when they're intentional.

Apparently, that is what occurred Saturday on Key Biscayne, according to Police Chief Frank Sousa.

The Key Biscayne Police Department received a call at 1:53 p.m. from a cellular number. Officers responded to 330 Redwood Lane in reference to the 911 call after the caller stated they were barricaded inside of the home, according to Sousa.

"Our officers immediately responded to the area and arrived within seconds. They established a perimeter, and instantly requested Miami-Dade Police negotiators and SWAT," Sousa said.

It was later determined the caller had punched in from an out-of-state number after a concerned homeowner approached a police officer and said a child was inside the residence. Officers instructed the child to exit the house and made sure the home was cleared.

"This appears to be a 'swatting' incident," said Sousa, calling the prank call an isolated incident and "no threat" within the Village.

Police department personnel will continue to investigate.

The criminal harassment tactic of deceiving emergency personnel has come under a closer look, with harsher penalties for the prank.

Earlier this week, heavy police presence was reported at a home in San Diego after a caller claimed someone had killed his mother, frightening the homeowners and the nearby community.

In 2018, a prank call led to a mistakenly deadly shooting when police officers believed they were responding to a real hostage situation.

The issue of "swatting" goes back at least a decade with celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Paris Hilton, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and R&B singer Chris Brown having been victims of the prank.

In Florida, a conviction could lead to a one-year jail term, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

However, in June of 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill, HB 371, making it a second-degree felony in the event of a death occurring, and a third-degree felony in the event of "great bodily harm" occurring due to the false report.

"Unfortunately, this practice has become more frequent," said Satellite Beach Police Chief Jeff Pearson, a past president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, when that bill was passed. "And its effects (are) more expensive and destructive, both for the public and the law enforcement officers unwittingly put into those dangerous situations."


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