Cops arrest 17-year-old suspected of hundreds of swattings nationwide

Enlarge / Booking photo of Alan Filion, charged with multiple crimes related to a “swatting” incident at the Masjid Al Hayy mosque in Sanford, Florida.

Police suspect 17-year-old California boy Alan Filion may be responsible for “hundreds of crushing incidents and bomb threats” targeting the Pentagon, schools, mosques, FBI offices and military bases across the country, according to CNN. reported.

Crashing occurs when scam calls to police trick emergency response teams into responding forcefully to nonexistent threats.

Recently extradited to Florida, Filion was charged with multiple crimes after the Seminole County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) traced a call in which Filion allegedly claimed to be a mass shooter entering the Masjid Al Hayy mosque in Sanford , in Florida. Caller broadcast 'sound of gunshots in background', SCSO saidwhile referencing Satanism and claiming he owned a handgun and explosive devices.

About 30 officers responded to the call in May 2023, then determined it was a swatting incident after finding no shooter and confirming mosque staff were safe. In a statement, Sheriff Dennis Lemma of the SCSO said “the crash is a perilous and senseless crime that puts innocent lives in dangerous situations and drains valuable resources” prompting a “substantial response from law enforcement.” order”.

Seminole County authorities coordinated with the FBI and Department of Justice to track down the alleged “serial swatter,” and ultimately arrested Filion on January 18. According to the SCSO, police were able to track down Filion after he allegedly “created multiple accounts on websites offering serial strikes.” services” that were linked to various IP addresses connected to his home address. The FBI then served a search warrant at the residence and found “incriminating evidence.”

Filion was charged as an adult with various offenses, including making a false statement while facilitating or abetting an act of terrorism. He is currently being held in Florida, CNN reported.

Earlier this year, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to “crack down” on swatting after he became a target at his home in December. If adopted, the Keeping Communities Safe by Ending the Swatting Law would impose strict penalties, including a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for any crush resulting in serious injury. In the event of death, bad actors face a life sentence. This bill is currently under review by the House Judiciary Committee.

“We need to send a message to the cowards behind these calls: This is not a joke, this is a crime,” Scott said.

Last year, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) warned that an “unprecedented wave” of crushing attacks in just two weeks had targeted 11 states, including more than 200 schools across New York. In response, Schumer requested more than $10 million in funding from the FBI to “specifically address the growing problem of swatting.”

Schumer said it was imperative that the FBI begin tracking incidents more closely, not only to protect victims from potentially fatal beatings, but also to reduce law enforcement costs and avoid unnecessary delays for emergency services blocked by hoax threats.

Thanks to Schumer's efforts, the FBI announced it would finally begin tracking swatting incidents nationwide. Hundreds of law enforcement agencies and police departments now rely on an FBI database to share information on crash incidents.

Coordination appears to be the key to resolving these cases. Lemma noted that the SCSO demonstrates an “unwavering dedication” to holding swatters accountable, “regardless of where they are found.” His office confirmed that investigators suspect Filion was also behind “other swatting incidents” across the United States. SCSO said it will continue to coordinate with local authorities to investigate these incidents.

“Make no mistake, we will continue to work tirelessly in collaboration with our law enforcement and justice partners to apprehend the perpetrators of the crashes,” Lemma said. “Our gratitude extends to all agencies involved at the local, state and federal levels, and this particular investigation and case serves as a stark warning that the crash will be subject to zero tolerance, and measures are in place to identify and prosecute those responsible for such crimes. “.

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