The Washington Post

Canadian teen linked to emergency calls for SWAT teams in Montgomery County

A 16-year-old Canadian boy has been linked to two cases of false emergency calls that have required police officers to be dispatched to Montgomery County schools.

The teenager, who lives in Ottawa, is believed to have been involved in at least 30 incidents in North America of what is known as “swatting.” It is a practice in which a person calls police and falsely claims that there is a shooter scenario or bomb threat so that armed SWAT teams have to be sent. Police say the incidents divert valuable resources as teams are deployed in response to the calls.

Several Montgomery County High Schools have been the target of swatting in recent weeks: Northwest High School in Germantown, Northwood High School in Silver Spring and Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville. Capt. Paul Starks, a c ounty police spokesman, said local detectives along with federal and Canadian authorities believe the Ottawa teen was involved in at least some and perhaps all of the Montgomery incidents.

The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office said the teenager in Ottawa was also involved in threats made to schools in California, Florida, Connecticut and New York. The teenager falsely warned police of “explosives, hostage-taking and the threat of an active shooter” in some of those U.S. cases, according to the FBI.

The teenager has been charged with 60 offenses, including public mischief, making death threats and conveying false information with intent to harm, according to police in Ottawa.

Authorities did not release the teenager’s name because of his age. Ottawa police searched his house and seized firearms, ammunition and his “communication devices,” officials said.

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Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at the paper in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder.
Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.

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