CLIFTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A massive police presence at a group of stores in Clifton, New Jersey, Saturday night was sparked by a hoax call, authorities confirmed to CBS2.
The Passaic County Sheriff’s Office said the call of a hostage scare they received around 8 p.m. was a case of “swatting.”
As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, “swatting” is a trend of calling in a fake threat to provoke a police response.
In this case, a group of video game fans gathered for an event at a video game store was the target.
“We didn’t know what to do, our minds were going in circles, our hearts were beating fast,” Argenis Lugardo said.
At least two dozen people were inside Digital Press Video Games for a monthly video game social gathering when police arrived after reports of a hostage situation.
“Some of us were told to go in to the basement and we had to stay quiet down there until we heard further instructions from the police,” Stephanie McKeon said.
“They were locking doors, turning the lights off, telling everybody to duck, go in the basement,” Wesley Lugardo said.
The group was eventually evacuated to the laundromat next door where they were detained and questioned, Castro reported.
“One by one we came out with our hands up, there were cops with the shields and the machine guns, they did pat downs, they did zip ties or handcuffs,” McKeon said.
Eventually, the group was allowed to leave.
“At the end of the day, we just thank God that we’re both still alive and here to tell you the story about what happened and just hope nothing like this happens again,” Argenis Lugardo said.
No injuries were reported and no arrests have been made.
Route 46 was shut down in both directions as police investigated.