By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
An anonymous man who claimed to be armed with a large rifle announced he had planted bombs in downtown Laramie on Tuesday forcing evacuation of downtown Laramie.
But local police believe the suspect was involved in a bad prank.
Downtown Laramie was evacuated on Tuesday evening after a man called police dispatch around 5 p.m., claiming he was armed with a large rifle and was wanting to shoot people at a business downtown, according to Laramie Police Department spokesman Lt. Ryan Thompson.
The suspect also claimed to have planted an explosive device in a vehicle in the area. Officers responded and secured the area, evacuating several businesses and residences.
Bomb technicians responded and cleared the suspected vehicle, finding no evidence of any threats. The vehicle which was alleged to have the explosive device was not related to the suspect in any way.
Thompson told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that he did not believe the suspect even lived in Wyoming and was just doing the prank to see how police would respond.
“It could be someone trying to gauge our response to try and carry something similar out in the future, but I get the feeling this is more of a prank,” Thompson said. “It’s somebody that needs something to do, unfortunately.”
It took about two hours to clear the scene on Tuesday.
Thompson defined this incident as “swatting,” a criminal harassment tactic of deceiving an emergency service into sending police or emergency services to another person’s address, most often with a false report of a serious emergency such as a murder, hostage situation or mental health emergency.
Swatting is considered a terroristic threat in Wyoming and is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.
Thompson said this is not the first time the police department has encountered swatting, but said this incident was more serious, as it included a bomb threat.
Anyone with information related to this crime is encouraged to call CrimeStoppers at 307-742-2273. They could earn a cash reward of up to $1,000 and do not have to give their name. All information is kept strictly confidential.