Ottawa teen faces dozens of charges in 'swatting' investigation
A 16-year-old Ottawa boy has been charged with 60 criminal offences related to what is known as "swatting."
Swatting is a prank that involves calling 911 about dangerous situations that are actually fake, so that Swat teams will be deployed.
"Swatting is a term utilized online to refer to engaging emergency services with false calls to affect revenge on an individual or organization by causing the response of armed Swat Teams to active shooter scenarios or bomb threats," said Ottawa Police Staff Sergeant Rick Baldwin-Ooms. "In this case, the subject is a suspect in at least 30 North American occurrences."
Those cases include the GTA, Quebec, Alberta, and as far away as California.
The suspect cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
He has been charged with 60 criminal offences that include public mischief, mischief to property, uttering death threats, and conveying false info with intent to alarm.
He was scheduled to appear in court in Ottawa for a hearing on Friday.
Police also searched the suspect's home and seized firearms, ammo, as well as data transmission/communication devices.
The joint investigation involved agencies in Canada and the U.S. including the FBI, Calgary Police, Halton Regional Police, Laval Police and Quebec provincial police.
In Hollywood, many celebrities have been the target of swatting pranks.
Stars such as Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Tom Cruise, and Rihanna have all been swatting victims.
In many cases, calls about fake bomb threats, shooters, or hostage situations draw swat teams to the homes of celebrities and other victims.
“These incidents of swatting have created real fear, put peoples safety at risk and disrupted entire communities," said Sgt. Baldwin-Ooms.
He said the pranks strain resources including police, paramedics and fire fighters.
Strained resources included police, paramedics and firefighters.
"This behaviour is far from harmless," he said. "Personnel tied up with these hoaxes can’t help people in need of real assistance.”
Police say more charges are expected against the 16-year-old suspect.