|Picture courtesy of Alissa Yarbrough|
April Fool's Day has never been a day I cared to celebrate.
I am not a person who likes to pull pranks and naturally do not like pranks being pulled on me. But I feel fairly safe because most of my family feels the same way. And if not, there is the assurance that they won't do anything too drastic because doing so takes time and planning, to which none of us are willing to commit.
But that doesn't mean we are safe from outside pranks.
A year ago today is a day we'll never forget.
In fact, the unhappy incident has been creeping around the corners of our minds for the last few days.
Don't get me wrong, we're not terrified. Just wary.
You see, we were the victims of a rather vicious prank.
It is not abnormal to hear the sound of police car sirens passing our road. But when they stop at the entrance of your road, that's when you begin to wonder. It was clearly something more than routine.
More officers arrived in SUV's and posted themselves at the beginning of the road as well. A few neighbors asked us if we knew what was going on but we had no idea. We snuck out the front door (so as not to interfere) and peeked past the shrubs to get a better look down the road.
Then we spotted an armed officer behind our neighbors house right next to us looking this way. Were they waiting for a felon down our road? Was there an escaped prisoner about? Believe me when I say we were racking our brains for solutions. Mom didn't like the looks of it and we retreated back inside.
Mom receives a call from a police officer asking us to stop what we are doing, slowly leave the house, and proceed down the road with nothing in our hands.
We were shocked!
Us?! What do they want with us?
My brain was reeling. I had gone into emergency mode and was responding automatically. But Mom was imagining all kinds of horrors. Did something happen to one of the family? What were they going to tell us that they couldn't tell us on the phone or at our house?
With our knees knocking we reached the officers who were grouped together behind the cars and armed for action.
The one in charge came forward and began to ask us questions. They proceeded to frisk my brother, the only man at home at the time, which was even more startling. Afterward he explained.
They had received a call saying "the brother had shot the father and was holding the mother and daughters hostage in the basement." Let me tell you, we were astonished!!
We quickly denied knowing anything about it and readily gave the officers permission to search the house. Obviously, they found nothing and came back with the report.
When the situation began to cool down and protocol behind, the officer explained that what apparently had happened was what was known as "swatting". A prankster thinking it would be funny to set the police on an innocent and unsuspecting family and turn their life temporarily upside down.
We were furious! All this fright and confusion because a selfish person wanted to have a little fun.
Thankfully it was cleared up quickly without any more confusion or problems. The officers were extremely kind throughout the occurrence, once they could see there were no murderers in our midst.
We were allowed to return home soon after with the promise that they would try to find the identity of the culprit. We were visited the next day by a local newsman and soon after by detectives.
Because we are not the type to simply let an unsolved case slip by, it drove us crazy that we couldn't find anything more out. We hashed out the incident and its details until we were blue in the face, hoping to find some connection as to how the culprit knew what he did about us.
Some weeks later we were told that there was another person with the same name as my brother in another county who was swatted also at that time. We put two and two together and realized that we were not the intended target. This other person had had a YouTube account where he shared his disgust of people who swatted others. Sir, I think we took the consequence of your remark.
So today you can't really blame us for being a bit jumpy. They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, but pranksters are not lightning.
We learned some things that day. And I don't think we'll sit that easy on April Fool's Day for a long time.
Let me just say this, pranksters beware when you target us. This time we're prepared!