The Game's 'telephone flash mob' delayed response to robberies
After a tweet by the rapper The Game prompted hundreds of calls to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Friday night, authorities said the unexpected deluge delayed their ability to respond to numerous emergency calls, including robberies and a missing person.
The tweet to the rapper's 580,000 followers said that if they wanted an internship with him, they should call a phone number, which turned out to be the number for the sheriff's Compton station.
Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker said the calls lasted for hours and that as soon as sheriff's deputies and dispatchers hung up, the phones immediately began ringing again. Although they received many hang-ups, several other people inquired about a music internship.
Several legitimate emergency calls were also received during that time, but deputies were delayed responding to calls about a missing person, a spousal abuse incident, two robberies and a stolen vehicle, Parker said.
"We don't know how many people needed help but couldn't get through the overwhelmed phone lines," Parker said.
Authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the matter, which could include charges such as obstructing officers, making harassing phone calls and knowingly and maliciously disrupting communication over a public safety radio frequency.
The Game sent a tweet to The Times saying: "it wasn't me (shaggy voice)." He suggested that his Twitter account had been hacked by someone else. In another tweet, he said it was an accident: "Yall can track a tweet down but cant solve murders ! Dat was an accident but maybe now yall can actually do yall job !!!! #iSpeak4ThePeople"
Parker asked The Game via Twitter to delete the phone number, but said he did not hear back. The rapper did not respond to requests for comment.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Kimi Yoshino
Photo: Rap artist The Game arrives at the 2011 BET Awards in Los Angeles in June. Credit: Jason Redmond / Reuters