Belfast police are investigating a swatting incident after a 911 caller reported a fake shooting on Saturday night.

Police Chief Bobby Cormier said the male caller told Waldo County emergency dispatch he had shot and killed his brother in a house on Union Street around 5:30 p.m. The caller told the dispatcher he was still armed, had again shot his brother and would not cooperate with police. The dispatcher heard gunshots in the background during the call.

The caller stayed on the phone with the dispatcher while police made their way to the scene. When Belfast police officers arrived, the caller told dispatch the report was a hoax and hung up the phone.

The call is among the many swatting — or phoning in a fake emergency to generate police response — incidents that Maine has dealt with in recent months, including a series of fake active shooter calls that targeted schools in November.

On Saturday, Belfast police evacuated the residents from their house and confirmed with them that there was no shooting on the property. They then notified the county that additional assistance from the sheriff’s office was not needed.

At this point, the Belfast Police Department does not suspect that the residents were involved with the hoax or that they have any connection to the caller. 

“They looked like they were just having dinner, and it was an average night for them … they don’t have anybody that has made any threats towards them or sent any signs that something like this was gonna happen,” Cormier said.

Cormier said an investigation is underway to find the caller, who will face criminal charges for committing false public alarm or report.

In Maine, it is illegal to intentionally give false information to law enforcement that causes them to think a crime has been committed or the safety of another person is endangered. That statute extends to fire departments, ambulance services or other government agencies when the situation involves an emergency. False public alarm or report is a Class D offense in Maine. The caller could face up to a year in prison if he is found, charged and convicted.

“These calls can put both the community and officers at risk and impact resources

for legitimate emergency calls,” Cormier said.

Cormier believes that the caller intended to generate a response that would require a large amount of emergency resources.

“By saying that he shot and killed somebody, that he still had a gun, making sure that the dispatcher heard the gunshots, all of those things indicated that ultimately, he was trying to get the largest police response possible, up to a special response,” Cormier said. “He said all of the right things. There’s the possibility he’s done this before, somewhere else, or been coached on how to do it.”