POLSON — A fake report of a person holding hostages in Polson put law enforcement and school officials on edge Thursday afternoon.
The incident began at about 1 p.m. after a 911 dispatcher received a call from a person claiming to have five hostages, with plans to begin killing them. The caller wanted $5,000 in ransom.
Polson Sgt. George Simpson said it was later determined that the call came from out of state.
“We did make contact with the residents … after we were provided an address,” Simpson said. “They were unaware about any of it.”
As the incident unfolded, Polson schools were placed on lockdown for a couple of hours to ensure the students were safe.
“We decided that was the best route to take as a precaution,” he said.
The Polson police were assisted by the Lake County sheriff’s department.
“The sheriff’s office was a big help, as was the dispatch center,” Simpson said. “The dispatcher did a phenomenal job. In Lake County, taking a call from someone who says they have five hostages and plans to start killing people isn’t a typical call. The dispatcher did very well. I was impressed.”
Missoula County law enforcement dealt with a similar hoax hostage situation in August that led the Missoula Police Department’s SWAT team to a downtown apartment.
The practice of making false emergency calls, known as "swatting," has occurred throughout the country.
Simpson said the Polson case remains under investigation.
“Considering what could have occurred, this one ended with the best possible outcome,” Simpson said. “No one was hurt.”