A second “swatting” attempt was made on Nikki Haley’s home on Kiawah Island on January 1, according to an incident report seen by Reuters from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.
Haley is the current Republican presidential candidate and previous governor of South Carolina. Just two days ago, someone called her house pretending to be an emergency worker.
A 911 caller said they were talking to Haley and that she had shot her daughter, who was “lying in a pool of blood” and threatening to shoot herself, according to the new report. When the officer went to Haley’s house, he talked to a woman who looked like her at the front door. He quickly realized that the call was another swatting hoax.
Haley said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that there had been two attempts to swat her, but she didn’t say what they were. “It wasn’t the first time,” she said about the call on December 30. “I think we’ve had it happen twice.”
What is Swatting?
Swatting involves filing false police reports of violent criminal activity in progress to elicit an emergency law enforcement response.
It is considered a form of intimidation used to target high-profile figures, now increasingly against officials involved in cases surrounding former president Donald Trump.
As Trump campaigns to return to the White House in 2024, surging swatting cases over the past two months have affected both his allies and rivals. Haley, his rival for the Republican nomination, appears to be among the latest targets.
The recent swatting attempts against Haley at her South Carolina residence have caused alarm, viewed by law enforcement experts as part of a wider trend of violent threats and harassment targeting major 2024 election figures.
Judges and at least one prosecutor related to Trump investigations have also faced swatting attacks, alongside politicians like Secretary of State Shenna Bellows who opposed Trump’s presence on her state’s ballot. Even Trump supporters like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene have been targeted, signaling no one is immune.
Affluent Community Disrupted by Hoaxes
The incidents against Haley occurred in Kiawah Island, a gated community with around 2,000 residents. Considered affluent with a median income over $96,000, it is a tranquil location suddenly disrupted by these false reports taking law enforcement away from real issues.
With senior citizens and a caretaker present during one swatting attack, experts believe the caller’s intention is to divert emergency services and escalate an aggressive response. As Haley continues facing Trump in the polls, more such attempts remain a possibility.
As the 2024 election cycle heats up, analysts warn that more candidates could fall prey to the swatting epidemic as seen with Haley. Without a change in course, not only could first responders become overwhelmed responding to hoaxes, but the threats could deter some political figures from continuing their campaigns altogether.
There are currently limited legal deterrents for swatting, which carries a maximum 5 years imprisonment. But pending legislation hopes to expand FBI oversight and toughen sentencing to act as a more effective warning.
Haley swatting hints at new political landscape The attacks on Haley, committed anonymously without clear motive, suggest a shift toward extremism around elections unseen in the U.S. before.
As she staunchly challenges Trump for the Republican ticket, the former governor may be singled out by his most ardent followers seeking to retain his power.
But without evidence of who is directing theseacts, questions loom if it is a coordinated campaign or the beginning of a dangerous new precedent. If threats and intimidation are normalized as part of running for office, who will want to take on such positions of public service in the future?