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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Police say report of shots fired in Nashua could be a hoax

The Nashua police SWAT unit descended on a Donna Street home Monday evening after someone reported shots fired. But police said information indicates the call was a hoax.

Police cruisers, officers and detectives swarmed the Donna Street neighborhood around 6 p.m. after the call that reportedly involved shots fired and a teenager. Cruisers blocked off New Dunstable Road at Gaffney and Dale streets. Officers patrolled the neighborhood, including several in the department’s BearCat armored vehicle. ...

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The Nashua police SWAT unit descended on a Donna Street home Monday evening after someone reported shots fired. But police said information indicates the call was a hoax.

Police cruisers, officers and detectives swarmed the Donna Street neighborhood around 6 p.m. after the call that reportedly involved shots fired and a teenager. Cruisers blocked off New Dunstable Road at Gaffney and Dale streets. Officers patrolled the neighborhood, including several in the department’s BearCat armored vehicle.

But just before 7 p.m. Nashua police Lt. Denis Linehan said police had no direct evidence there had been a shooting and didn’t know whether anyone was inside the home.

Police later released a statement saying the report was unfounded.

This is not the first time police have been called to the small residential neighborhood tucked between West Hollis and Kinsley streets for a false report. In September, another call brought a huge police response when a 7-year-old girl said some men entered her Donna Street home and shot her father.

The practice is known as “swatting,” meaning a fake 911 call designed to cause alarm and a massive response by police and other emergency responders, often a SWAT team.

Police didn’t release the address on Donna Street, but the teens said the September incident went down at 25-27 Donna St., a duplex next door to where the teens were standing when everything unfolded. Initial scanner reports on Monday indicated police were
responding to a home in that vicinity.

By 7 p.m. police hadn’t determined for sure about what had happened, but that wasn’t much solace for Lucy Phillips’ young daughter. When she heard the shooting involved a 13-year-old, she feared for her friend who is that age and lives in one of the homes rumored to be involved.

“There are some kids who play with BB guns so we’re hoping that’s what it is, that they’re mistaken,” said Phillips, who lives nearby and wasn’t allowed into her home because of the police response.

Swatting often depends on “spoofing,” the manipulation of phone or other communication systems by Internet-savvy hoaxers, to change the apparent location of a phone call. Hoaxers use that misinformation to trick the 911 system into thinking that a call is coming from a victim’s home, or a cellphone in a certain location.

Police are asking that anyone with information about the incident call 594-3500 or the Nashua Crime Line at 589-1665.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).