(OVIEDO, Fla.) — Members of a Florida family were shocked to be awakened in the middle of the night to find their house surrounded by police with guns drawn shouting at them to put their hands up.
Police Lt. Mike Beavers said the commotion was “very rare” for the small town of Oviedo, about 20 miles northeast of Orlando.
“This is the first time I’ve heard of it happening in our little town,” Beavers told ABC News.
The frightened family did not want to be identified but recounted the ordeal to ABC News’ Orlando affiliate WFTV.
“I heard the doorbell ring,” the father of two told WFTV. “We couldn’t see anybody at the front of the door. All we saw was the rifle barrel.”
The man said he and his wife originally believed they were being robbed.
“They have rifles, they have guns, and I said, ‘Let’s get out of the house,’ so we ran down the hallway and got our two boys up,” the father said.
“We were told to freeze and put our hands over our heads,” he recalled. “They said, ‘We’re the police,’ so that was a big relief.”
What the family didn’t realize was that an Xbox hoax had led the Oviedo police to its house. The police said they were responding to a call from AT&T saying it had received online messages from a person who said he was hiding inside the house, claiming that someone had been killed there and that others were being held hostage.
But when police arrived, all they found was a very surprised and confused family.
Upon investigation, police learned that the confusion all started when an Oviedo teenager living in another house called police saying his Xbox had been hacked. The teenager said the hackers had threatened to call in bomb threats to his home if he did not meet their demands for gaming information. When the teenager refused, the hackers sent fake messages reporting the killing and hostage taking at the teenager’s former home. His previous address, where police showed up, was still connected to his Xbox.
The teenager did some of his own investigating, police said, and provided authorities with some possible identifying information on the hackers.
“The caller gave information to officers regarding two possible suspects, including IP addresses, Twitter and Facebook accounts and a possible name of one of the suspects,” according to the police report. “The information provided to the officers revealed that both suspects were located in different states.”
The information has been turned over to Oviedo detectives for further investigation.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
David Goldman, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN
Camille Verdier, Steve Visser and Margot Haddad, CNN