Teenagers targeted Mark Herring because they wanted his "@Tennessee" Twitter handle.
Getty Images, Twitter
  • Teenagers 'swatted' a 60-year-old man because they wanted his Twitter handle, NBC News reported.
  • The man was "scared to death" and suffered from a massive heart attack, his family said.
  • Swatting is the act of calling the police on an innocent person with a false claim that they are a dangerous person.
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A 60-year-old man in Tennessee died after he was "swatted" by teenagers who wanted his valuable Twitter handle, NBC News reported.

Mark Herring's home in Sumner County was surrounded by armed police in April 2020 after teenagers reported a fake murder, his family told NBC News.

Herring was "scared to death" when law enforcement officers swarmed the property with their guns drawn, his daughter, Corinna Herring Fitch, told the media outlet. The shock caused him to have a massive, fatal heart attack, NBC News said.

The teenagers targeted Herring because they wanted his "@Tennessee" Twitter handle, which he had acquired in 2006 and was reluctant to sell, according to NBC News.

Read more: The 'crime surge' is both overhyped and underappreciated

One of the swatters, 18-year-old Shane Sonderman, was sentenced to five years in jail on Wednesday. He was charged with wire fraud, interstate communication of threats, false information, and hoaxes, and conspiracy. He agreed to plead guilty in March to the conspiracy charge in exchange for other charges to be dropped, NBC News said.

His co-conspirator is a British minor who was not extradited to the US, the media outlet added.

Herring was one of the five people targeted by the teenagers as part of a scheme to acquire social media handles to sell on internet forums, according to the indictment.

There have been no tweets on Herring's Twitter account since September 2019.

Sonderman initially harassed Herring by ordering cash-only pizza deliveries to his home, NBC News said.

The swatting, which took place later that evening, was prompted by Sonderman making a call to the police saying that a murder had occurred at the residence and that pipe bombs were on the property, the media outlet reported.

Swatting is the act of calling the police on an innocent person with a false claim that the individual is an active shooter, kidnapper, or another type of hostile criminal, Insider's Emma Witman reported. The "swatting" prank has a long history in the streaming community and has been done to LosPollosTV, a Twitch streamer, and JoJo Siwa.

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