SWAT teams and LAPD officers swarmed the Hollywood Hills home of Ashton Kutcher Wednesday morning on a call of shots fired from inside the home. When police arrived, they determined it was all a hoax, and an expensive one for taxpayers. Lolita Lopez reports from the Hollywood Hills for the NBC4 News at 9 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2012.
The Hollywood Hills home connected with Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore on Wednesday was the site of a prank known as "swatting," the practice of calling in a bogus police report in an attempt to lure SWAT teams to a particular location, police said.
In the latest instance, Los Angeles police officers responded to the home in a cul-de-sac in the 3000 block of Arrowhead Drive on a report that a resident was hiding in a closet, saying people with guns were in the house.
"We get to the scene and apparently discover it was a hoax," said Officer Cleon Joseph with LAPD. "Around the same time the assistant to the owner of the resident advised us that all the people that were in the house were employees."
Initially treated as persons of interest, the employees were cleared. A sergeant at the scene said there was no evidence of a crime.
There was initially a strong police presence at the home, aerial video showed. At least three teams of heavily armed officers could be seen going into the home (pictured below, center top).
Police are searching for whoever sent the teletype message, a method of communication used by the hearing impaired, to alert officers to the bogus crime -- a crime that could cost upwards of $15,000 in taxpayer funds.
We used "quite a few resources and I'm sure that's not going to make our taxpayers happy, and officers' safety message don't make our officers happy either, that we could have been doing something more resourceful," Joseph said.
At about 12:25 p.m., many officers were seen leaving the residence. A shirtless man who appeared to be recording officers with an iPad appeared in the driveway at that time.
At about 2 p.m., Kutcher tweeted this message: "Safe an sound at two and a half men. Don't miss tomorrow night 8:30 pic.twitter.com/bI7L0j7M"
LAPD received a call from a female at the home just after 11 a.m. The exclusive area is above the Hollywood Reservoir (map).
Wednesday's incident was the latest suspected "swatting" prank. A similar hoax is believed to have occurred in August at the home of singer Miley Cyrus, where officers responded to kidnapping claims and found no one home.
In California, anyone convicted of making a false 911 call could face up to a year in jail.