NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (PIX11) – Inside the walls of their home, Irisa Leverette and her son, Darius, are world-famous TikTokers.
“It’s just our life,” said Irisa. “It’s real and it’s no script.”
Darius has autism and is nonverbal and has one million followers all around the world who love to watch his journey through life. But it was when Irisa was creating a live TikTok that a dark chapter in that journey began.
“I came downstairs and I heard banging,” said Irisa, “and then I said ‘yes?’ And the voice said, ‘police, police!'”
Up until then, it was a quiet day. Darius was upstairs taking a bath.
“I opened the door with my hands up,” said Irisa, “and when I opened the door, I saw police officers with guns, guns I’d never seen before. I’d never seen guns up close like that.”
Stunned and confused why police were there, Irisa pleaded with officers.
“‘My son is autistic, he’s 18,” Irisa told the officers. “‘He’s in the house, he’s in the bath,’ and I repeated it over and over and over again.”
This sign on her front door alerted officers to Darius’ nonverbal condition. Still, police were urgently trying to get inside after the terrifying call they received:
“Our central communications received a phone call that a male subject within the residence has already killed his wife. He reportedly shot and killed his wife and was going to shoot and kill his child as well,” said Capt. Brian Hoiberg of the North Brunswick Township Police Department.
This bogus call is known as “swatting.” Luckily, Darius was unaware of what unfolded, but the situation could have ended in tragedy.
“This is a real problem,” said Hoiberg.
Swatting incidents have been on the rise in the tri-state area. Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer called for an end to swatting, making a push for $10 million in funding to bring swatters to justice.
“I would say to look at the trend that’s ongoing,” said Hoiberg. “Look at this poor family in our North Brunswick.”
In spite of the uphill battle North Brunswick police face in finding out whoever was behind this, they say they are not closing the investigation.
“Swatting is an extremely dangerous and traumatic event for anybody,” said Hoiberg.
“Stop swatting,” said Irisa. “It’s dangerous, it hurts families, it hurts people, it puts police on the line, it puts everybody on the line, and it costs money.”