Washington state teen charged in swatting case

Authorities in Washington state have charged a 16-year-old boy with three felonies related to a “swatting” incident in Stephens City in September.

Capt. Donald Lang, of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, listed the charges as two counts of extortion and one count of communicating with a minor for an immoral purpose.

The defendant also faces five other charges pertaining to alleged offenses committed against other jurisdictions. The charges include two counts of threats to bomb and injure. No charges have been filed in Virginia.

Lang said the defendant was charged on Nov. 18 and has remained in custody since then.

Authorities responded to two incidents within 10 days of each other in late August and early September that involved swatting – the practice of phoning in fictitious crises to police in an effort to mobilize large numbers of them and have them dispatched to certain places.

The first incident in Frederick County involved a call from someone claiming he had tied up his wife and daughter at his Stephens City residence and threatening to shoot them if he wasn’t paid a $20,000 ransom. Law enforcement officials from Stephens City, Middletown, Frederick County and Virginia State Police were dispatched to the scene.

The second incident on Sept. 9 involved a threatening call to Robert E. Aylor Middle School that drew about 12 police cruisers and led to the evacuation of 600 students to Sherando High School. Law enforcement agencies at the school included the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, the Stephens City Police Department and officials with the Attorney General’s Office.

Police found no threats at either the residence or the school.

Lang said the investigation involving the Washington teen is continuing. Lang said the teen is the only suspect authorities have in the Frederick County incidents, although “other agencies are looking into potential things.”

“We’re not releasing how he came to be a suspect because of what’s going on,” Lang added, alluding to the other investigations.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com.