Coquitlam teen charged with ‘swatting’ Florida high school
Published Wednesday, December 10, 2014 2:59PM PST Last Updated Wednesday, December 10, 2014 7:47PM PST
A Coquitlam teenager has been arrested for allegedly calling in a series of fake bomb and shooting threats in a county in Florida.
The 17-year-old was arrested on Sunday after an investigation into threats against a high school and a private home in Polk County, Fla. The suspect has not been identified because he is a minor.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect threatened to “drive to Fort Meade High School in a black van and shoot everyone,” in September. A month later, he allegedly sent an email to the school saying he was going to “blow everyone up.”
In both cases, the school was locked down and police were sent in to investigate. Each time, they found that the threat was a hoax.
The incidents are examples of “swatting” -- placing fake calls to law enforcement in order to have a SWAT team sent to a home, school, or business -- police said.
In each case, the suspect allegedly told a juvenile witness he was going to “swat” her school.
Then, in November, he allegedly called police to the witness’ home, saying that he was inside, had just killed his parents, and would shoot any officers who arrived. When police showed up, the witness told them it was a “swat” hoax.
This isn’t the first instance of “swatting” police in the Lower Mainland have dealt with this year. Last month, Richmond RCMP were called to a home in Steveston in the middle of the night for a purportedly serious incident, only to find that the call was a hoax and the residents were fast asleep.
A year earlier, Mounties investigated connections between three bomb threats that forced evacuations at schools in British Columbia, Ontario, and New Brunswick on the same day. Police could not say for certain that all three incidents were connected.
At the time, CTV News identified an Internet hacker who referenced all three threats on his Twitter feed that day and had been accused of “swatting” in the past.
According to Coquitlam RCMP, the alleged perpetrator of the Polk County hoaxes plead guilty to two counts of criminal harassment, one from an incident in North Vancouver in October 2013, and the other from an unrelated incident that took place in Waterloo, Ont., in January of this year.
In both cases, the young man reportedly harassed young women he met online, police said. He is expected to appear in court for a sentencing hearing related to those charges next month.
In its release on the arrest, the PCSO said the suspect admitted to the RCMP that he was responsible for the “swatting” calls in Polk County. The RCMP’s release did not include this information.
The PCSO also said that the young man is a suspect in other cases in the United States and Canada, and that its investigation is ongoing.
The suspect has been charged with three counts of public mischief and one count each of extortion and breach of recognizance, all related to the Polk County incidents. Because of the “serious nature” of the charges, the suspect is being held in custody until his next court appearance on Thursday, Dec. 18, police said.