A resident of the state of Washington has been apprehended and accused of perpetrating over 20 “swatting” incidents across the United States and Canada. Ashton Connor Garcia, a 20-year-old from Bremerton, utilized voice-over-internet technology to mask his identity while making these calls in the previous year. According to federal prosecutors, he perceived these incidents as a source of amusement, broadcasting them on the social media platform Discord.
Garcia is currently facing 10 felony charges lodged in the United States District Court located in Tacoma, Washington. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison. “Mr. Garcia is believed to have triggered potentially life-threatening situations every time he filed a fake report with law enforcement, as it resulted in heavily armed police officers being sent to an address where they believed they would confront an individual who was dangerous and armed,” said Nick Brown, U.S. Attorney for Seattle, in a press statement.
In several instances, Garcia acquired personal information about his victims and blackmailed them into surrendering money, credit card details, or sexually explicit photos. In some instances, law enforcement officers entered people’s homes with weapons drawn and detained occupants.
Garcia’s apprehension follows a string of hoax calls and threats of shooters directed at schools and colleges throughout the country. On Wednesday, computer-generated calls in Pennsylvania made bogus allegations about active shooters, while nearly 30 schools in Massachusetts received false threats a day earlier.