***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***
Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.
BLOG POST #64: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving a bored high school graduate.
After he graduated he didn’t know what to do with himself, except play video games.
Adept at using his computer, he decided to become a computer ‘hacker,’ because “you can’t catch a hacker”—his words, not mine.
This 19-year-old’s crime spree ran the course of approximately eight months. It was reported that he found some of his targets through online gaming. He used anonymous emails and Twitter names in addition to Internet-based phone accounts in an attempt to commit his crimes so as not to be caught.
He first called the police department in a small town 1,000 miles and four states away from his hometown. He made an anonymous “SWAT” call. He said he’d taken hostages in a home and had already wounded one. If he didn’t receive a duffel bag with a million dollars he was going to kill both hostages and burn their house down. Police were dispatched and found the crime to be a hoax.
Swatting: Calls with the intent that they would result in an emergency police response to a residence, ideally involving a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.
A few months later he called in a bomb threat at the high school in the same small town as the police dept. He used the initials of a local 17-year-old boy who attended the high school. He said the bomb was set to detonate in one hour. Of course, the school was evacuated. The police determined the threat to be a hoax.
After the bomb threat hoax, the budding computer hacker sent a direct message via Twitter to the 17-year-old he’d pretended to be in the small town and said “NICE BOMB THREAT.” Later he sent a direct message to the 17-year-old and another claiming responsibility for the bomb threat.
The next day he called the same small town police department with another hostage “SWAT” call found to be a hoax. He sent the local 17-year another direct Twitter message advising him he’d been “Swatted.”
The day after the swatting hoax, he made another call to the small town police department again using the local teen’s initials and said he was going to shoot up the high school in thirty minutes and kill everyone. He posted on Twitter the local boy’s initials and that he was going to shoot up the school.
A few weeks later he claimed he had placed a bomb at the small town high school and all survivors would be killed by a strike team on their way to the school.
Then another Swat call to the same small town police department trying to sound like a child stating there was a home invasion and his mother had been shot.
Next, he left a voicemail message for one of the small town police officers stating he was the “Bomb Threat God” and that the officer better stop spreading rumors that he was about to be caught because he was a hacker and you can’t catch a hacker. Cocky dude.
He said some extremely inappropriate comments to the officer and ended his message with him wanting to kill the officer’s family.
This pattern of behavior continued for a few more months, and then the local police turned the case over to the FBI. One day you think you’re an anonymous “hacker” living in the suburbs, possibly still living with your parents, and the next day you’re arrested by the FBI and transported to another state to face federal charges.
The defendant engaged in a pattern of harassing activity against several victims using the cloak of anonymity afforded by the Internet,” said the Assistant U.S. Attorney.
The 19-year-old pleaded guilty to calling in multiple false bomb threats, making harassing text messages, and making “swatting” phone calls, in which he falsely reported hostage situations. He was sentenced to 41-months in federal prison, followed by 3-years of ¹supervised release.
The invincible computer hacker was scheduled to be release in 2018.
The Assistant U.S. Attorney went on to say, “He wrought emotional havoc and caused the needless expenditure of public funds to respond to his destructive e-mails, tweets, and phone calls.”
What are your thoughts about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.
Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.
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