$3M 'Fortnite' champion Kyle Giersdorf falls victim to SWAT team hoax mid-game

A heavily armed SWAT team showed up to Kyle Giersdorf's home after a caller claimed he had murdered his father and was holding his mother hostage. (Getty)
A heavily armed SWAT team showed up to Kyle Giersdorf's home after a caller claimed he had murdered his father and was holding his mother hostage. (Getty)

Last month, 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf won $3 million when he was crowned champion of the Fortnite World Cup in New York.

His newfound fame for video gaming caught up with him on Saturday.

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Giersdorf, aka Bugha, was in the middle of livestreaming a game of “Fortnite” on streaming platform Twitch when he told his followers he had been “swatted.”

What is swatting?

“Swatting” is a form of harassment incited by alerting police of a false crime like a murder or hostage situation at the intended target’s home. It has been used occasionally in the online video gaming community.

An actual SWAT team arrived at Giersdorf’s Pennsylvania home with guns drawn after a call was made to local police by somebody claiming to be Giersdorf.

Police told that Giersdorf murdered his father

Cpl. Albert Werner of the Upper Pottsgrove Township Police told ESPN that the person impersonating Giersdorf said that he had killed his father via multiple gunshots and was holding his mother hostage in the garage.

This, of course, was not the case. Giersdorf’s father answered the phone when police called and eventually walked outside as a tactical team surrounded the home. One of the the officers recognized Giersdorf, and the situation was settled in less than 30 minutes, Werner said.

“Well, that's a new one,” Giersdorf said to the 38,000 people watching his stream when he returned around 10 minutes after he left, according to ESPN. “They came in with guns, bro. They literally pulled up. That's scary. The internet's f---ing crazy.”

Giersdorf’s team still wins

According to BBC News, Giersdorf’s team still won the game despite the real-life scare. Giersdorf was playing with two other teammates who locked down the win in the seven-hour game during his absence.

Police told ESPN that they believed the call came from Europe but did not provide any other details on the suspected “swatter.”

Deadly gamer “swatting”

Video game-related “swatting” has had deadly consequences in the past. Tyler R. Barriss, a 26-year-old from Los Angeles, is serving a 20-year prison sentence after calling in a false report of a hostage situation that drew police to the Wichita, Kansas, home of 28-year-old Andrew Finch.

The call was made as part of a dispute over an online game of first-person shooter “Call of Duty.” An officer shot and killed Finch — who was not involved in the dispute — when he opened the door to his home.

Finch had recently moved into the home that was previously occupied by the intended victim of the “swatting.”

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