Man charged with hoax 911 call claiming NYPD cop shot on NJ highway
A 35-year-old Pennsylvania man is facing charges in New Jersey after police said he made a crank 911 call claiming that an NYPD officer had been shot on the side of a highway in Hunterdon County.
Michael Pellot, 35, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was charged with second and third-degree false public alarm and fourth-degree false report to police.
Pellot is out on $100,000 bail, authorities said Friday.
This is the latest case in New Jersey of so-called swatting, in which people phone in phony bomb, hostage or other violent threats, resulting in a massive police response that often targets unsuspecting and innocent people.
New Jersey last year toughened penalties for swatting, upgrading a false public alarm charge from a third to a second-degree crime.
Pellot is accused of making the crank call Feb. 29. He told the 911 dispatcher that a New York City police officer was shot and bleeding on the side of Route 78.
The hoax call brought out police from High Bridge, Clinton Township, Town of Clinton, Franklin in Hunterdon, and the State Police.
“Swatting is not a harmless prank,” Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns III said Friday in a statement. “It is very hazardous and places citizens and law enforcement officers in danger. Creating a false public alarm is a crime and those responsible will be prosecuted. The high level of cooperation between the agencies was instrumental in tracking down and arresting the accused."
Kearns’ office did not release other details about the investigation, including how Pellot’s call was traced or what motivated the alleged hoax.
It was not clear Friday afternoon whether Pellot had an attorney. He could not be reached for comment.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.