An 11-year-old girl was apprehended and handcuffed outside her home in central Florida on Wednesday after falsely reporting the abduction of her 14-year-old friend, leading to a massive law enforcement response. According to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, the girl now faces felony and misdemeanor charges for her actions.
Law enforcement officials revealed that the girl admitted she was inspired by a YouTube challenge when she carried out the 911 hoax, believing it would be amusing. She called emergency services claiming her friend had been kidnapped by an armed man driving a white van.
Responding to the call, deputies, officers from various police departments, and an aviation crew were deployed for the search, but no van or abduction was found.
Over the next hour and a half, the girl continued to update law enforcement with false information, providing a description of the nonexistent male suspect and claiming he was armed. Her actions resulted in a waste of valuable resources that could have been utilized to help someone genuinely in need.
Body camera footage of the arrest was posted to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page.
The video shows four uniformed officers surrounding the girl as she stands handcuffed in the driveway outside her family’s home. She appears upset and remorseful, stating, “I’m not going to do this again,” while an officer reminds her that it should be a learning experience.
The girl was taken into custody at her family’s residence in Port Orange, a few miles south of Daytona Beach after deputies tracked her cellphone, which she had used to send the false text message to 911.
Fraudulent 911 calls, particularly those made by teenagers and young adults, have been on the rise in the United States.
These hoaxes, often linked to online networking platforms, have garnered attention in connection with incidents of “swatting,” where false 911 reports lead to SWAT teams being dispatched to unsuspecting individuals’ homes as pranks. Online gaming platforms have been associated with some of these “swatting” cases.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood emphasized the dangers of such prank activities and vowed to investigate every incident. To raise awareness about Internet dangers and protect children from engaging in such activities, the sheriff’s office plans to host five community forums over the next month, with the first one scheduled for Monday.
As authorities and communities grapple with the consequences of fake emergency calls, the incident involving the 11-year-old girl serves as a stark reminder of the serious implications and potential harm caused by such actions.
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