A Canadian juvenile was arrested in the recent Polk County “swatting” case. “SWATting” is when an individual attempts to lure the SWAT time to respond to a location for a fake threat of some type.
Polk County deputies allege the teen anonymously placed hoax calls to law enforcement officials in an effort to lure SWAT teams to respond to Ft. Meade high school over the past four-months. Deputies say the investigation began in September, when an unidentified male called the sheriff’s office and Fort Meade High School and said he was going to “drive to Fort Meade High School in a black Jeep Cherokee and shoot everyone with an AK-47,” prompting a SWAT team to place the school on lockdown.
So how did the police find him if the calls were being placed “anonymously”? Detectives say they identified the suspect because the Canadian teen was communicating online with a student from Fort Meade allegedly telling the student “I am going to Swat your school,” just prior to the “anonymous” phone call. In October, deputies allege the suspect again told the witness he was going to “swat” her school, then sent an email to the school, saying he was going to “blow everyone up,” prompting another lockdown. In November, deputies say the suspect called the sheriff’s office and told the dispatcher he had just killed that witness’ parents inside his parents’ Winter Haven home, and would shoot any responding law enforcement officers. The witness told deputies it was a hoax.
Polk deputies allege that the Canadian suspect is an experienced computer programmer who is allegedly on probation for similar crimes in Canada. Police say the suspect allegedly confessed to the Polk “swatting” crimes and is suspected in similar crimes throughout the U.S.
The teen is being held on charges of extortion and disorderly conduct. Most people think of extortion as when a suspect extorts money from a celebrity by threatening to release unflattering pictures of the celebrity if they do not pay the suspect money. However, the purpose of the Florida Extortion statute 836.05 “Threats; extortion” is to “condemn malicious making of threats to others, verbally or by written communication, with intent to extort money or other pecuniary advantage, or to compel persons so threatened or any other person to do any act or refrain from doing any act against his will. In this case, that would be forcing the SWAT team to respond to the school or the school being placed on lockdown. This can be a very dangerous situation and why the crime is a very serious felony carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison (2nd degree felony).
Under Florida Statute 985.557 “Direct filing of an information; discretionary and mandatory criteria”, this juvenile could be prosecuted in adult court instead of the juvenile division. This is a Level 6 offense that carries 36 points on the felony scoresheet. 44 points or more scores prison.
If you have been arrested for a crime, call an experienced criminal defense lawyer that will fight for you in court!
Thomas C. Grajek – 863-838-5549