by Valerie Verkamp
The Platte County Prosecutor's Office charged a resident of Indiana with making a false bomb and hostage threat against a local family.
The criminal act, dubbed “swatting,” occurs when a person places a phony call to police with the ultimate intent of sending a SWAT team to a targeted residence.
In this case, the act was a form of retaliation against a minor who allegedly mistreated the suspect’s on-line girlfriend.
Authorities allege Richard Scott Zimmer, 20, of Kokomo, Ind., called a police dispatcher at 12:25 a.m. on Jan. 11 to state that he unlawfully entered a home at 15330 N.W. 125th Street in Platte County and was holding a victim hostage.
Zimmer indicated the victim's mouth was taped shut and he allegedly demanded a ransom in the amount of $300,000. The caller said he would pick up the money at the Kansas City International Airport.
Should authorities fail to comply with the ransom request, the caller said he would end the hostage victim's life by inserting a knife into his neck, states the probable cause statement.
Zimmer also allegedly told authorities the house contained an explosive device which he would set off if anyone got in close proximity to the home. The caller warned the dispatcher against making any wrong moves and threatened the dispatcher’s life.
Zimmer revealed the name of the alleged hostage to the 9-1-1 dispatcher.
When authorities discovered the alleged victim's name matched a name of a person at the residence, deputies set up a police perimeter around the home and nearby roadways.
Authorities say they were unable to make contact over the phone when they attempted to call the family's home.
Meanwhile, a minor placed a call to local authorities to say a friend, later identified as Zimmer, had just placed a fraudulent call to 9-1-1. He indicated the incident was merely a swatting hoax with the intent of teaching a 15-year-old girl a lesson for personally upsetting Zimmer's on-line girlfriend.
At the direction of law enforcement, the minor logged onto Skype where he corresponded with Zimmer. According to the probable cause statement, Zimmer told the minor he would probably get six months in jail if officials were able to connect him to the phony call. Zimmer said his chances of getting caught were slim since he encrypted this online communication.
Once officials got word the incident was potentially a hoax, deputies ordered the homeowner out of his house located in unincorporated Platte County. The homeowner revealed his family of five had been sleeping the entire time.
Zimmer has been charged with committing a class D felony of making a false bomb report. If convicted he may serve up to four years in prison.
Zimmer is now in custody and was set to appear before a Platte County judge on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Judge Dennis Eckold set Zimmer's bond at $50,000.