Fake Lawrence County 911 call spotlights dangers of false calls

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A terrifying 911 call made to Lawrence County dispatch on Sunday indicated a mother was shot and siblings were tied up in a closet.

The call, however, turned out to be false.

False calls can have dangerous consequences as a family in Sumner County found out firsthand in 2020.

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“He was our go-to; he was our rock; he was our person. He was everything to everybody and just (snaps) gone,” Casey Monroe explained of her father Mark Herring.

On April 27, 2020, Herring’s Bethpage home became the center of a massive investigation when a teen in another country called 911.

“Called 911, said he was Mark Herring, shot and killed his girlfriend, pipe bombed his house, was going to kill himself,” said Monroe.

Police swarmed Herring’s home with guns drawn.

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“Twenty-plus agencies showed up to his house thinking he had done this when in reality he had no idea what was going on,” Monroe said.

Herring died minutes later of a heart attack. His family believes the call and response scared the 60-year-old innocent grandfather to death. Herring’s family has since been pushing for stricter punishments and education when it comes to swatting calls since.

“I try to speak to any first responder, anybody I can to let them know this is what’s happened and if they could look into and investigate, you know, do a class. This is, unfortunately, a daily thing that’s happening,” said Monroe.

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Sunday’s false call in Lawrence County came in to first responders as a mother shot multiple times with an AR-15 and siblings tied up in a closet. The details led to an urgent response from a number of agencies.

“They have a hard job. They are going in thinking somebody has killed somebody, somebody has pipe bombed this house. They are going to shoot these kids so they are thinking their lives are at stake. They can be shot, so they are on high alert once thing goes wrong and they could possibly kill an innocent person who had no idea what was going on,” Monroe said.

Lawrence County Sheriff John Myers said the investigation into Sunday’s false call is ongoing as to who called 911 and why.

“If it was a prank, swatting whatever they took those resources away from somebody who could possibly need them,” said Monroe.

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District Attorney General Brent Cooper said he does plan to prosecute Sunday’s case to the fullest. Cooper pointed out that Tennessee doesn’t have a swatting statute specifically, rather that it would fall under false reporting, which carries a three to six-year sentence.

“The punishment for whoever is responsible for this should send a message to others as to just how dangerous and serious this is and that this won’t be tolerated in this district,” said Cooper.

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