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Arrest made in 'swatting' call that sent police to Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel

Arrest made in 'swatting' call that sent police to Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel
A police officer points a rifle outside a doorway at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel on Thursday. (KTLA-TV)

A Beverly Hills police SWAT team was dispatched to the upscale Peninsula hotel Thursday morning in response to a bogus emergency call, police officials said.

Authorities said they traced the call to a 36-year-old Beverly Hills man named David Pearce, who was arrested on suspicion of making a false report of an emergency. He is due in court in April.

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Police received a call about 6:30 a.m. from a man saying “there were men with guns in his hotel room and they weren’t letting him leave,” said Capt. Lincoln Hoshino.

Police considered it a “suspicious circumstances” report, and officers went to the hotel in the 9800 block of South Santa Monica Boulevard. But when they tried to reach someone inside the room, no one responded, Hoshino said.

The department’s SWAT team was called in, eventually spoke with the room’s occupants and determined there was no emergency, Hoshino said. The people in the room had not made the call and, in fact, might have been asleep through much of the emergency response, he said.

“It was a hoax call,” Hoshino said.

The incident is reminiscent of other so-called swatting calls — false reports intended to provoke an emergency response as a dangerous prank — that have drawn national attention in recent weeks.

This year, a Los Angeles man was charged with manslaughter after he allegedly placed a hoax phone call to police in Wichita, Kan., claiming he had shot his father and was holding other relatives hostage inside a home. The call led to a fatal police shooting of an unarmed man at the house. Tyler Rai Barriss, 25, allegedly placed the call after an online dispute over a video game.

The deadly incident reignited concerns about swatting. The FBI estimates roughly 400 swatting cases occur each year. Some experts have said police agencies need to take the phenomenon more seriously and provide formal training to dispatchers and others to better recognize hoax callers.

8:05 p.m.: This article was updated with information about an arrest.

8:45 a.m.: This article was updated with additional background information on swatting.

8:15 a.m.: This article was updated with reports that the call was a hoax.

This article was originally published at 7:20 a.m.

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