Man Receives Sentence Over Hoax Emergency Calls

Man Receives Sentence Over Hoax Emergency Calls

( – A Washington man has been jailed for three years for making a series of hoax emergency calls. The Department of Justice announced that 21-year-old Ashton Connor Garcia from Bremerton was sentenced in the US District Court in Tacoma on four felony counts related to “extensive illegal harassing activity.” Garcia made 20 false calls, including hoax warnings that bombs had been placed at various positions throughout the US and Canada.

US District Judge Benjamin Settle said the hefty jail term reflected the seriousness of the offense and sent a message that those engaged in “swatting” could expect more than a “slap on the hand.”

“Swatting” involves individuals calling emergency services with false reports and sending police and other first responders to named addresses where no incident has occurred.

Mr. Garcia admitted that he had made emergency calls through social media and online services and streamed these on the group chat application Discord in 2022. Prosecutors say the 21-year-old boasted at the time that he would not be caught and that he proudly labeled himself a “cyber terrorist.” In one incident, Garcia arranged for police to attend a residence in Edmonton, Canada, while a mother and young child slept. They awoke to find heavily armed police in their home.

Prosecutors said that Garcia had set out to cause harm and delighted in wasting police time and resources. However, he is said to have shown remorse during his sentencing, saying that he had failed to recognize the “trauma” he was causing.

Swatting instances have had a significant presence in the United States, with some targeting high-profile lawmakers. Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene was swatted on Christmas Day last year, and Senator Rick Scott of Florida was targeted by a call to police saying he had shot and killed his wife. Taylor Greene said she has been subject to swatting on eight occasions.

Hundreds of Synagogues have also been targeted. Assistant FBI Director Cathy Milhoan said most calls originate outside the United States.

In 2018, a swat team shot a Kansas man, and a man was later jailed for 20 years for making the hoax call that caused the tragedy.

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