How a Skype message and hoax phone call from a Coventry gamer ended with a man being shot

It started with a hoax phone call and ended with an innocent man suffering life-changing injuries. Robert Walker-McDaid claimed he had plastic explosives and hostages with him when he called a terrorism hotline in the US as part of a ‘swatting’ incident at victim Tyran Dobbs’ home in America.

Detectives from West Midlands Police and the FBI in the US discovered that the twisted plan began during a Skype call with a friend Walker-McDaid had met while playing video games called Zachary Lee. He messaged Walker-McDaid to tell him he needed “someone hit.”

Robert Walker-McDaid called a Maryland state terrorism hotline, claiming he was armed and holding three people captive with explosives, and said the incident took place at Tyran Dobbs’ home. He claimed that the first hostage would be executed ‘within 15 minutes’ unless he received $15,000 (£12,000).

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A US SWAT team rushed to the address believing the threat was real and shot Dobbs in the face and chest with plastic bullets, believing he was the person making the hostage situation and bomb threat, CPS says . Mr Dobbs required reconstructive facial surgery after suffering serious injuries.

Tyrant Dobbs(Image: ABC7)

Officers from the Howard County Police Department, the FBI and Interpol later discovered that the hoax call had been made by Skype user ‘Meowobikiniz’ using a Virgin IP address registered to a property in Coventry. It turned out to be the home address of the disturbed 28-year-old Walker-McDaid.

Initially, the US planned to extradite Walker-McDaid to face charges in its jurisdiction, but the extradition case was blocked and a later appeal was also rejected. Because the crime was committed in Coventry, there was a realistic prospect that Walker-McDaid could be prosecuted in Britain.

Working with the US Department of Justice, the FBI and the West Midlands Police Eastern Complex Team, the CPS reviewed a large amount of material and creatively put forward the strongest possible case against Walker-McDaid. Walker-McDaid admitted making the call but denied full blame and suggested Lee had been pressured into taking the actions. Reports later revealed that the then 21-year-old was a “willing and active participant in the scheme.”