New York, NY – A 34-year-old man waiting in jail on multiple armed robberies repeatedly found a way to call in phony 911 calls to his mother’s home because she couldn’t come up with his $250,000 in bail.
James Truell is an inmate at Rikers Island who called 911 and reported that there were people with guns and shootings at a residence.
The fake calls, known as “swatting,” have been an increasingly common harassment tactic that puts people’s lives at risk.
The calls started last September, according to WABC. Police said that Truell would call 311 from Rikers and then convince those operators to transfer him to 911.
Police said that Truell, who suffers from mental illness, would abuse the 911 system from Rikers to send police rushing to his mother’s home thinking there was an emergency.
Truell’s mother said she couldn’t afford the bail and that upset her son.
“It was really so frustrating, because I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know who was doing this,” said Christine Black, Truell’s mother, according to WABC. “The emergency calls were coming in and I didn’t know who was sending these emergency calls to my home.”
Black’s boyfriend, Larry Canady, said that the emergency calls told police that people were being shot and that there was a gun. Canady said when police arrived, they wanted to search the house. He said ambulances would arrive because the calls told police a man was down, according to WABC.
Police came to the house with their guns drawn, according to Canady.
“I said don’t let them in no more, because I don’t wanna get killed in here,” Canady said, according to WABC.
The mother said her concern is for her son and his mental health despite what he put her through.
Truell is facing 31 counts of reckless endangerment and false reporting, in addition to his robbery charges, according to WABC.