Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, the recent first-place winner of the Fortnite World Cup, received an unwelcome surprise on August 10 while streaming with pro players Ghost Bizzle and FaZe Dubs after being swatted. Bugha and his family were incredibly fortunate, as the situation did not escalate to a dangerous level.
For the unfamiliar, "swatting" is a term used to describe a false emergency report made against an innocent individual with the goal of having armed police show up at their door. The results have been deadly in the past. In 2018, Andre Finch was killed by a police officer in Wichita due to a call made maliciously with the purpose of causing trouble.
Bugha was streaming his game online when his father entered the room and tried to get his son’s attention. Bugha was heard saying “Dad, I actually can’t,” as this occurred during an important part of the match and required concentration. A moment later, he understood what his father was saying, declaring over the stream, “I got swatted?”
Bugha then left the room to deal with the situation, returning ten minutes later and attempting to make light of the situation. The issue did not escalate because one of the responding police officers knew who Bugha was in his connection to Fortnite and understood that something was amiss.
This was a fortunate outcome, especially since others have not been so lucky. The dangers of swatting have become so prevalent that some police departments have considered solutions to deal with the issue before anyone is harmed.
One example of this happened in Seattle, where the Police Department there created a registry that streamers can opt-into. This registry can be used in conjunction with current 911 protocols to filter genuine calls for help from those with malicious intent. Unfortunately, similar programs are not yet available across the USA, but if the Seattle project is a success, others may continue the trend.
For those who may think swatting is a harmless prank, they should consider Tyler R. Barriss as a cautionary tale. Barriss was behind a false call that led to the death of Andre Finch and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
There is not too much that one can otherwise do in today’s age of information, so hopefully, Bugha experiences no more pranks following his recent rise in popularity.