LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A group on the chat platform Discord was found to be behind swatting calls at the home of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah, and dozens of other bomb threats and swatting incidents across the nation, the LAPD said Friday.
According to the LAPD, the main suspects have been identified as three juveniles between the ages of 13 and 16, living in Medina, Ohio; Yonkers, New York, and a U.S. citizen living overseas in the country of Cyprus.
"Subjects were using advanced software, overseas servers, and privacy tools to hide their electronic trail," the LAPD said in a statement.
With the help of the FBI and local law enforcement agencies in New York, Maryland, and Ohio, the LAPD identified the three juveniles and served search and arrest warrants on Tuesday. More witnesses were interviewed in Maryland, and several electronic devices were seized and are being examined by forensic scientists at the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service.
Investigators with LAPD's Major Crimes Division were tipped off last month that the group operating on Discord were responsible for a swatting call at Abdullah's home in September. Further investigation found they were behind another swatting call at Abdullah's home on Aug. 12 of last year, according to the LAPD. Abdullah has sued the LAPD over their response to the swatting call.
The group has been linked to 30 other bomb threats and swatting incidents dating back to July 2020 across the U.S., and the LAPD says targets ranged from video gamers and activists to schools, airports, houses of worship, entertainment venues and memorial parks.
"Some of the language used in the swatting incidents and a review of the subjects' online activities reflect a racial motivation theme to a number of these swatting attacks," police said.
The LAPD says they will present a criminal conspiracy and creating a false emergency case, with a hate crime enhancement, against all three juveniles to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
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