A British gamer faces up to 20 years in prison for taking part in a “swatting” hoax, which resulted in the innocent Tyran Dobbs being shot in the face by police officers.
“Swatting” is an abhorrent but increasingly popular tactic employed by online trolls to disrupt live streamers on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube, in which they call the police to the address of the streamer claiming that they are perpetrating a crime, in order to have a SWAT team arrive at their door. These incidents often result in the unwitting streamer’s home being raided by authorities, and can sometimes turn violent as a result of the severity of the crime that the swatter claims is being perpetrated.
Robert McDaid, a 21-year-old from Coventry in the UK, called a SWAT team in 2015 to the home of Dobbs, who was then 20 years old, demanding that $15,000 be brought to his home address in Maryland, US or he would start executing hostages. After raiding the Dobbs family household, armed officers shot rubber bullets at the face and chest of the young man, breaking bones in his face in the process.
A graphic image of the injuries suffered by Dobbs can be viewed below:
McDaid has now been charged with conspiracy, false information, aggravated identity theft and hoax, the latter of which can lead to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He’s the first person in the UK to be charged as a result of swatting. Zachary Lee from Catonsville, Maryland has been charged with the same offences, after conspiring with McDaid to commit the crime. The 25-year-old reportedly contacted McDaid and told him to call the police to Dobbs’ home, the court heard, with him giving McDaid the victim’s address.
Officers reportedly infiltrated Dobbs’ home and ignored his father and cousin’s pleas, with them allegedly explaining that there was no hostage situation and that Dobbs was asleep. Despite this, Dobbs was still shot with the rubber bullets and hospitalised as a result.
Speaking to ABC 7, Dobbs criticised the actions of the police and stated that he still suffers from nerve pain following the incident. “I want justice”, Dobbs said. “I want them to pay for my medical damages and I want whoever shot me in my face to have to do some time.”
Maryland US prosecutor Rod Rosenstein said that they are working with UK officials “to ensure that Robert McDaid is held accountable for his alleged actions.” “The alleged criminal activity represents a grave threat to public safety”, he added.
Swatting has become a reviled trolling tactic in the online gaming community, with it being used over the past few years to disrupt streamers while they are broadcasting live on air. While police officers have typically been recorded responding appropriately to these incidents, as evidenced in a video that circulated last month of two officers joking with a Twitch streamer about being called to his home, it can sometimes end badly for those targeted.