On January 26, 2023, the Gallatin County 911 Dispatch Center received a non-emergency call of gunshots inside a residence during an altercation. Gallatin County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to the residence southwest of Belgrade.
Responding deputies made contact with three occupants who were able to quickly confirm this was a false report.
It is another occurrence of a growing public safety concern commonly known as "swatting" where an anonymous caller falsely reports active killing or imminent killing of innocent civilians. This call prompts law enforcement to respond in anticipation of encountering an act of active violence creating tense, confusing and dangerous situations with unwitting citizens and law enforcement.
On this occurrence, after determining no altercation had occurred and through subsequent investigation the male caller was identified as Ray Saldana Flores of Helena, Montana. As the events Mr. Flores had described were consistent with felonious acts in the State of Montana, deputies obtained an arrest warrant for Mr. Flores for False Reports to Peace Officers (Felony).
The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office in coordination with the Helena Police Department located Mr. Flores who was taken into custody on January 27, 2023. Mr. Flores' phone was seized with the application of a Search Warrant where the cellular phone application was identified which was used to make the phone calls and texts using out of service phone numbers on the phone. Deputies were able to track Mr. Flores' location during internet searches and activity placing him in Helena just before the non-emergency call was made.
Gallatin County Sheriff Dan Springer would like to make it clear, False Reports to Peace Officers (Swatting Calls) put the general public at risk. Individuals who make false reports in Gallatin County will be arrested in accordance with their reports.
Sheriff Springer would like to thank the Gallatin County Attorney's Office for their cooperation in obtaining necessary warrants and the Helena Police Department for arresting the offender.
If you have information regarding swatting calls, please call 406-582-2100.
If successfully prosecuted, you may be eligible for a crime stoppers reward.