CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – In his downtime, Alex Aguilar is a ‘streamer.’
He specializes in horror games and broadcasts his gameplay on Twitch, a platform that has become especially popular with the rise in esports.
Aguilar has gained a small following, and he sees it as fun.
“I started this back when COVID had [begun], and my friends and I had no place to hang out,” he said.
But Sunday afternoon, it appears a quick session of gameplay on Twitch turned into a real-life fright.
Aguilar, a stage actor in Charlotte, was getting ready for a rehearsal when he heard some activity outside.
“Normally, there isn’t police in this neighborhood, and I thought ‘something weird is happening with the neighbors outside,'” said Aguilar. “I’m like, ‘oh, gosh, I hope everyone is okay,’ and then I hear, ‘Alex Aguilar, come downstairs.'”
Aguilar’s Ring video shows him and his roommate being ordered out by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, and moments later, CMPD making their way inside.
Aguilar said police could figure out it was a hoax rather quickly.
“They told me they received a call that I had shot my wife, and I was planning to shoot myself,” he said. “In that moment, I laughed and said, ‘but I’m gay,’ and they laughed.”
Aguilar was the apparent victim of something called “swatting,” — a practice that, while illegal, has been on the rise.
“Swatting” involves someone making a prank call to authorities or 911, saying that a major crime is being committed at a specific address.
Police arrive at the address to investigate the reported incident, which may involve multiple officers with guns drawn, forcing people at the residence out, only to realize it is a hoax call.
The act of “swatting” itself is a crime, often misusing 911 or filing a false report. Authorities criticize the practice as a waste of resources.
For those who are the victims of “swatting,” it can often be seen as an act of revenge on the part of the person who called it in, whatever the reason. Additionally, it creates undue stress on the victims and the community.
Aguilar’s situation is not unique.
Several incidents of similar nature have happened across the country and in North Carolina since the beginning of the year.
“Swatting” has targeted celebrities and politicians in the past, but targeting game streamers or online game players is a more common act. Aguilar noted that he, along with a fellow friend and Twitch user in Texas, was targeted around the same time.
As with Aguilar’s incident, authorities responded and realized it was a hoax call.
Aguilar said the only thing remotely similar to Sunday’s incident happened when he got pranked with unpaid pizza orders and a prank shipment.
“What happened could have ended in a horrific way, but luckily CMPD responded in a very professional manner,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar noted that his Twitch stream is a safe place for LGBT people and people of color and thinks he may have been targeted because of that fact.
However, he said what happened to him over the weekend would not stop him.
“This just adds more fuel to the fire for me,” he said. “I am doing something right, and I’m not going to stop being a voice for my community.”