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Woody and Jim

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'Swatting' Leads To Tennessee Man's Death, Because of His Twitter Handle

Photo: Getty Images - file photo

A Sumner County man had a coveted Twitter handle, but it ultimately started a series of events that led to the police confronting him at gunpoint and his eventual death.

Mark Herring, a 60 year old guy who joined Twitter the week it went online, grabbed a handle that lots of people would want. He chose @Tennessee because of his love of the UT Vols.

He was often approached to give up the coveted handle, but he held onto it. It's worth thousands of dollars. But he wanted to keep it. One day, a caller demanded he give it over. He refused.

After someone sent unordered pizza to various members of his family, it escalated. A caller 'Swatted" Herring. It's when an anonymous caller tells the police there's a hostage-type situation happening at someone's home. Police arrive in great numbers, armed and ready to confront a dangerous situation. But there is nothing really happening. It's an annoyance and ties up police for hours.

Poor Mr. Herring heard a commotion outside, grabbed his gun and went out in his yard. With police aiming their guns on him, he tossed his own pistol aside. But moments later, his heart gave out, and he died.

The family believes he was literally scared to death.

Shane Sonderman, a minor when the swatting was committed, apparently was the one trying to get the handle by intimidation.

The family told News 2, “He’s the one that collected all of our information…my address, my sister, my mom’s, my other sister’s. He put it on a channel on Discord, which is a gaming chat forum.”

Another minor from the UK was the one who called 911 and sent police to Herring's house.

The incident happened in 2020, but the family is wanting the story told to warn families about what their children can do on the internet. And they want there to be more severe penalties to those doing the 'swatting".

The UK minor will not be extradited because of his age. But Sonderman is behind bars waiting for trial. A federal grand jury says he had 6 victims of his tactics, but Mark Herring was the only one who died.

Sonderman is looking at a conspiracy charge with 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His next court date is next week.

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