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Two teens charged in swatting incident at Baker School

Two 14-year-olds have been charged in connection with a swatting call made to Baker School in November, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday. Authorities said a former Baker student, […]

OCSO

Two 14-year-olds have been charged in connection with a swatting call made to Baker School in November, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

  • Investigators allege the boys were part of a national group that pays members to make hoax emergency calls using cryptocurrency.

Authorities said a former Baker student, who was an online student at the time, asked a member of the group to target the school.

On Nov. 3, police received an 8:46 a.m. call claiming an armed person was preparing to carry out a mass shooting at Baker School. The threat prompted officials to lock down nearby Crestview High and other area schools as a precaution.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden said the fake threat “sent fear through the entire community and (took) first responders away from potential legitimate emergencies.”

  •  “The hoax call led to a massive, immediate and intense response by law enforcement and other emergency responders, sending fear through the entire community and taking them away from potential legitimate emergencies. “ said Sheriff Eric Aden.  “This crime is no prank. It has real and dangerous consequences.”

Investigators traced the call to a residence in Mansfield, Texas. Police conducted an interview there with another 14-year-old, which led authorities to obtain a search warrant for his cellphone.

Information extracted from the Texas teen’s device directed focus toward the Baker teen as the requestor and indicated connections between the two teens through online gaming and their mutual participation in the swatting group, Aden said.

  • The group is believed to be responsible for numerous swatting attacks in the U.S. and Canada in which hoax emergency calls prompt overreactions from police and SWAT teams.

The Texas teen is expected to be extradited to Okaloosa County where he faces charges of making an electronic threat of a mass shooting, making a false report of firearms being used in a violent manner, use of a two communication device to facilitate a felony, as well as interference with school functions.

  • Meanwhile, the Baker teen has been tied by investigators to multiple swatting calls in New Jersey, Arizona, Indiana and Texas. He faces additional felonies for his suspected involvement in cases across multiple states, though the full scope of his alleged activities remains under active investigation, Aden said.

Okaloosa County Schools Superintendent Marcus Chambers applauded the community for its measured response during the chaotic lockdowns prompted by the fake threat call.

“In our School District, the safety of our students and staff is the number one priority. I could not be more proud of our students, teachers, staff, principals, and parents for how they reacted to the events that unfolded at Baker and Crestview Schools,” said Chambers. “I want to express my gratitude for the patience and understanding of the parents and all the first responders who reacted swiftly and worked diligently to bring this individual to justice. We will not tolerate any behavior, hoax or otherwise, that has the potential to threaten the safety of our schools.”

Chambers and Sheriff Aden urge parents to speak with their students about the serious consequences of making such statements and remind them to report any suspicious activity to their school resource officer or administrators.

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