It was around 3 a.m. when a 17-year-old Black student suddenly woke to the vision of police in her dorm room with their guns trained on her.
Christin Evans, who is a freshman at Stephen F. Austin State University, was the victim of “swatting,” which is a dangerous prank that is intended to provoke police to respond with force, to the extent of employing a SWAT team. Recent incidents of “swatting” have incited altercations where the outcome of the encounter was fatal for the target of the prank.
According to multiple news reports, on Sept. 14 Evans’ three white roommates, along with approximately seven other girls, informed a resident adviser that Evans had threatened to stab them with scissors. The adviser called campus police, who proceeded to storm Evans’ room. Afterward, officers examined from the dorm’s security cameras, which had footage that demonstrated Evans was innocent.
“I feel shaken. I don’t even know how to think. I can’t sleep at night because of this. It has made me really paranoid,” said Evans.
At a Monday news conference, Evans’ parents, LaShondra and Chris Evans, stood with their attorney Randall Kallinen, appealing to the school to penalize the students who called the police on their daughter.
Kallinen said Evans was the victim of a racist set-up that could have ended tragically. “This could have been a Breonna Taylor circumstance,” he said.
“Yes, we’re upset and we want something to be done about it,” said Chris Evans. “When I sent my daughter off to school, my worse-case scenario was that she should call needing money or an issue with her grades.”
Evans’ parents believe that the incident was racially motivated.
“I want justice,” said LaShondra Evans. “I want [the people responsible] to have consequences. They played with her life.”
The SFA Chief of Police John Fields subsequently launched an investigation and released a video message in which he said, “A racially diverse group of students were involved in an incident involving a false report. The students will be held accountable for this at every possible level.”
On Monday, the president of SFA issued a statement on Twitter that said, “Each perpetrator will be dealt with appropriately.”
He continued, “My heart goes out to the young lady who was an innocent victim in this matter. We will do all we can to support her and her family through this heinous ordeal.”
Evans’ mother said the thought of what could have happened to her daughter keeps her up at night.
“Kids sleep with their phones in their bed. What if they [saw] her phone flash, or the back of her phone is shiny … and they had reported she had a knife. They could’ve shot her,” she said.
Evans was expected to cheer for SFA but said the whole case has tarnished her college experience.
“I was looking forward to making friends and having a good time on the cheer team, but since this has happened, it’s made it really, really hard,” she said.
The university transferred Evans from the four-person dorm suite to another residence and she is currently taking classes online.
The incident is still under investigation.