It was a tense few moments for the Payson Police Department after it received a call from a man claiming to be holding six people hostage in the back of a local store.

Just before 5 p.m. on Sept. 12, a man called dispatch claiming to have shot one person, holding employees of MetroPCS hostage, threatening to shoot himself and reporting he was building a bomb.

The bizarre call prompted the Payson Police Department to send every available officer to the Safeway Shopping Center to evacuate businesses and get everyone to safety while they dealt with what they thought was a deranged gunman.

But turns out the whole thing may have just been an elaborate hoax.

After turning the shopping center upside down, officers found no gunman, hostages or any signs of distress.

In fact, when they went into the cellphone store, staff reported everything was fine and had no idea what police were talking about.

Police Chief Ron Tischer said they don’t know if someone called to create a diversion because they were committing a crime somewhere else in town or they just wanted to create a scene.

The PPD has responded to few swatting situations, where a false emergency is reported to get a SWAT team to respond where no emergency exists.

Tischer said he was grateful no one was injured and was thankful for the help of the Gila County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Public Safety.

The shopping center was reopened about 7 p.m.

Contact the editor at abechman@payson.com

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