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Controversial Valley pastor targeted for 'swatting'

Pastor Steven Anderson said someone called in a fake shooting at his home on Sunday.

PHOENIX — A controversial Valley pastor who preaches that homosexuality is a crime punishable by death claims he was the victim of a swatting call Sunday. 

Steven Anderson is the pastor at Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe. The church has been listed as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for Anderson's sermons.

Sunday, Anderson said his wife and nine children were at home when police arrived and called for them to come out with their hands up.

Phoenix police confirmed that they responded to a shooting call at the address but found no evidence of a shooting. 

“They're saying, 'come out with your hands up.' And of course, my wife couldn't fathom that they could be talking to her and our kids," Anderson said.

Anderson believes he was "swatted." Swatting is when someone calls the police and tells them a significant crime has happened at a house or a business, even though it hasn’t. The hoped-for result: an overwhelming, terrifying police presence descends on the address.

It's also led to police shooting innocent people on occasion. 

Anderson has preached that the cure for AIDS is to kill all homosexuals. He's advocated for the death of former president Barack Obama and has been accused of promoting antisemitism. 

He acknowledges he has no shortage of enemies. 

He's also been accused of crossing the line ever since his church gained notoriety. But he said the swatting call crossed the line. 

"Is there any possible situation where this would have been the right thing to do?" he said. "No matter what people think of me as a person."

Phoenix police said swatting would probably be the same as false reporting or misuse of 911. It's a misdemeanor on the first offense. 

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