The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office said Monday afternoon that a series of four phone calls indicating that bombs were present in two businesses on the Seaside Heights boardwalk were unfounded and likely part of a “swatting” incident, as was a claim that operatives with guns were waiting on the boardwalk to strike.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that at approximately 8:50 a.m., on Sept. 11, 2023, the Seaside Heights Police Department received four phone calls indicating that two bombs were hidden at businesses on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. Additionally, the callers indicated that they had operatives armed with guns on the Seaside Heights boardwalk.
The Seaside Heights boardwalk was temporarily evacuated as law enforcement assessed the credibility of the threats, and utilized police K9’s to perform bomb searches. An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Homeland Security Squad, Seaside Heights Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s K-9 Unit, and Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, determined that the threats were not legitimate. At approximately 10:30 a.m., the boardwalk was reopened.
“Based on what we know now, these threats are swatting incidents,” said Billhimer. “We will continue to investigate this incident with our local, state and ederal law enforcement partners.”
The bomb scare comes 22 years to the day that the nation suffered a series of terror attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and a few days from the seven-year anniversary of a terror attack on the boardwalk in Seaside Park, where a pipe bomb was set detonate before a run benefiting a Marine Corps-related charity. The bomb was discovered after the race was shortly delayed.
A “swatting”incident varies in detail, but generally involves a phone call made to a law enforcement agency – sometimes by a local resident and sometimes by a person from another state or country – in order to draw out armed SWAT teams to, potentially, provoke an incident. They have become an increasing concern at public facilities as well as against political figures in recent years.