Colorado teen arrested for harassing California school with fake ‘swatting’ calls
A Colorado teenager has been arrested on suspicion of calling in fake bomb threats to a California high school this month in so-called “swatting” pranks that prompted the cancellation of classes, the FBI said on Wednesday.
The teenage boy, who was not identified because he is a juvenile, was arrested at a house in Colorado Springs for allegedly making the threats to Centennial High School in Corona, California, east of Los Angeles, the FBI said in a statement.
The FBI called the hoaxes “swatting” calls, referring to a trend in which people falsely report an emergency to authorities that requires a police response, usually by Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT, teams.
According to the FBI, on Sept. 8 and again the following day, the teen, using an alias, telephoned Corona police to say he had planted explosives on the school campus.
No bombs were found, but after the second threat, the Corona Unified School District canceled classes as a precaution.
A joint investigation by federal agents and Corona police ultimately traced the calls to the Colorado Springs residence, and the probe led law enforcement to suspect the youth made similar threats to high schools in Las Vegas, authorities said.
It wasn’t immediately clear why the California school was targeted.
“Making false threats drains law enforcement resources and can cause significant distress or physical injury to first responders, victims, and their families,” the FBI statement said.
Numerous celebrities have been the target of swatting calls in the past several years, prompting California lawmakers in 2013 to pass tougher penalties for defendants convicted of swatting.
Ashton Kutcher, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, among others, have been victims of the hoaxes, according to a California legislator who sponsored the law.
In March, police in Florida responded to the Miami home of rapper Lil Wayne after a man called to say he had shot four people at the house of the Grammy-winning singer. The call was later deemed to be a hoax.
The Colorado case has been turned over to the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office, which will decide what, if any, charges the teenager will face.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Victoria Cavaliere)