ABC 7 On Your Side has exclusive interview with Md. victim badly injured at hands of police after "swatting" prank nightmare

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Swatting, an elaborate prank, is currently on the rise, FBI officials say.{}

Swatting is when a stranger calls 911 from a fake phone number and sends a SWAT team to an innocent person's home, usually claiming the unsuspecting person is involved in crisis situation.

7 On Your Side sat down with the acting special agent in charge of the D.C. field office of the FBI Jennifer Leonard, to talk about the criminal prank of "swatting."

Leonard warned, "It is widespread growing problem and the victims are both businesses, schools, famous celebrities, as well as just your average person."

Currently, the FBI isn't keeping an exact tab on the number of swatting incidents occurring across the country, but Leonard said the FBI is putting all of its resources towards finding the pranksters responsible for the dangerous crimes.

"We are seeing a widespread issue," she said.

Leonard added, "The one piece of advice we give to the average citizen is if they are threatened over the internet and someone says 'I am going to SWAT your house' to let their local police department know, so if they are responding then they will know that there is a threat out there, and they will try to make a telephone call into the house and see what the situation is before responding with a SWAT team."

While 20-year-old Tyran Dobbs said he still has nerve pain in his face, he said it is the sharp pain in his heart that really bothers him whenever he sees police.

Five months ago, Dobbs said he was asleep inside his Ellicott City apartment when a Howard County Police SWAT team showed up out of nowhere. The ordeal ended when Dobbs was shot right between the eyes with a rubber bullet from a police officer's gun.

But as ABC 7 On your Side Fighting Back investigator Jennifer Donelan reveals, the SWAT team should have never been called to his apartment in the first place.

Turns out Dobbs had been "swatted" and he was the innocent victim. He still has to undergo another facial reconstruction surgery, according to his family.

What happened next is the point of contention between the Dobbs family and police. They contend Howard county police went too far and should have never fired at the 20-year-old.

His father, Tom Dobbs, claims he tried to persuade arriving SWAT officers that his son was at home asleep. "I said, 'man are y'all going to go up there and kill my son? I said, 'man, he's sleeping!," his father explained.

Dobb's adult cousin, who was inside the apartment at the time and got the call from police to come outside, said she told officers that nothing was going on inside the apartment, as well. She said, "I am telling you we are fine, we are okay so you should have dropped your guns when we were walking out."

Dobbs himself said when police woke him up with a call on his cellphone, he said he told them he would come outside. Dobbs said he walked around the apartment looking for something to put on because it was a cold February night. He said he walked out to the living room, saw the SWAT{} team, and heard police yelling at him to come out. He said he turned around to go get his girlfriend but was shot. He said he doesn't remember anything after that rubber bullet him in the face.

Dobbs' father recalled the moment he was allowed back inside the apartment and saw the pool of blood. "I came in and saw all the blood out there and I said, 'Is that from my son?' He said, "He has a slight head injury." Dobbs' girlfriend, Amelia Freidmann, and Dobbs' father didn't see him until the following day while he was in ICU at a local trauma hospital. Friedmann said, "I actually...I couldn't handle it. I actually ran to the bathroom and threw up when I first saw him. It was heartbreaking."

The Dobbs family says there were no apologies and no further explanations from police. Dobbs said he can't understand why police didn't listen to his family when they told them nothing was happening inside the apartment. He said, "How did y'all not trace this call back? How did y'all not figure out where it came from?" Dobbs added, "I want justice. I want them to pay for my medical damages and I want whoever shot me in my face to have to do some time."

Police say Dobbs was shot twice with two rubber rounds to prevent him from reentering the apartment. A Howard County Police Department spokesperson said Dobbs repeatedly refused to obey officer's commands, and also allegedly had his hand in his shirt, though police do not have video evidence of it.

When asked, Dobbs denied having his hand in his shirt, and said he had nothing in his hands at all.

The department said Dobbs was shot in the face as he was "falling forward," according to a written statement to 7 on Your Side.

7 On Your Side requested an on camera interview with the county's chief of police but were told no twice because the chief is in charge of both the criminal and internal investigations into what happened that evening. The spokesperson said it was the fourth case of "swatting" this year in Howard County. You can see the full two page Howard County police statement about the case here: Howard County Police Statement on Swatting t

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