BIDDEFORD — Police responded to a reported hostage situation in an apartment at 41 Clifford St. in Biddeford on Sunday and about two hours later determined the call was a hoax.

Biddeford Police Chief Roger Beaupre said this morning that at about 11 a.m. police received a call from an unknown person who said he had just shot and killed his parents in the apartment and that he was holding his girlfriend hostage in the bathroom. The caller also claimed to have set up explosives in the building, he said.

But after contacting the man who lives in the apartment where the incident was reportedly occurring, Beaupre said police determined by about 1 p.m. that the report was false.

“It appears to be fairly similar to the recent incidents that happened in (Standish) and in New Hampshire,” he said.

The act has been dubbed “swatting,” said Beaupre, and occurs when somebody falsely reports a serious crime, such as a hostage situation, to trigger a large-scale police response. “The problem with that is people can get hurt,” he said. “There can be innocent victims.”

Fortunately, Beaupre said Sunday’s swatting incident left nobody hurt. When officers from Biddeford and Saco surrounded the building and asked the apartment tenant to step outside with his hands up, he obliged without resistance, he said.

Later, in interviewing the tenant, a young Massachusetts man who recently moved to Biddeford, Beaupre said it was clear he had nothing to do with the call. Officers also searched the building and found nothing out of the ordinary, he said.

Now, said Beaupre, Biddeford police are working with other agencies in Maine in an attempt to determine the identity of the caller.

“This is a dangerous prank,” he said.

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]

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