St. George SWAT raids hotel after fake call to police of murder, hostage situation

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) — A call reporting a potential murder, hostage, and mass casualty situation in St. George this week lead to a SWAT team response, only for authorities to find out the call placed had been fake.

Authorities say dispatch received the call shortly after 11 p.m. Monday on a non-emergency line. The caller said he was on the top floor of the Wingate by Wyndham hotel at 144 W Brigham Road. According to police, he said he had killed his girlfriend, tied up his father, and the “headcount would be 13.”

St. George police officer Tiffany Atkin said officers quickly got in touch with hotel management, telling them to contact every room and inform guests to shelter-in-place.

“They gave us a list of all the hotel guests, what rooms were occupied on each floor, and a master key,” Atkin said. “We had layouts of all the rooms and floors, and we methodically went through the hotel floor by floor, room by room.”

RELATED: St. George man arrested for threatening to kill woman, assaulting man trying to help her

Several immediate action teams stationed on each floor, on the roof, and outside the hotel to create a perimeter while St. George SWAT searched each room of the four-story building with their guns drawn. Yet, authorities said they found no evidence of any type of crime or danger; within one hour, all emergency personnel were cleared from the scene.

“There might be a little bit of frustration,” Atkin said. “If there is a positive outlook on this, it’s good practice. We train and we can do it more quickly and easily next time.”

Investigators tell ABC4 News they haven’t yet determined who placed the call because it was coming from a blocked number. If an individual is caught making a false call to a dispatcher of an ongoing emergency, the caller could face up to a second-degree felony in Utah.

RELATED: Man arrested in St George for attacking woman at motel with knife


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Katie Karalis
Katie worked as a multimedia journalist in Reno, Nevada for KRNV News 4 and in Quincy, Illinois for WGEM-TV before making the move to Utah. Katie graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she anchored and reported for the Emmy-award-winning Northwestern News Network.

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