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Orange County juvenile arrested for making "swatting" calls targeting synagogues

A juvenile was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday after he was found to be connected to a series of alleged "swatting" calls targeting synagogues in Orange County. 

Swatting is the act of making hoax reports of crimes in order to draw large amounts of law enforcement to the targeted location. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested the juvenile suspect on early Tuesday. Specifics of the arrest or the age of the suspect have not been released. 

They did, however, note that the suspect was connected to a much wider online ring of people making swatting calls across the nation, which "included members who espoused extremist views, to include the glorification of highly publicized mass killers."

"A series of the hoax swatting threats had been made over the summer targeting numerous religious, educational, and public institutions in the United States, to include Jewish synagogues and African American churches," said a statement from the FBI. "The group suspected of perpetrating the hoaxes was known to have called in bomb threats and swatting attempts at Jewish facilities, including at least 25 synagogues in 13 states between July 2023 and August 2023."

 The Orange County District Attorney's Office expects that the juvenile will be charged at state level in connection with two swatting incidents made at synagogues in Fullerton and Tustin. 

Authorities have successfully removed the server that was used to host the swatting network. The work was done with help from Southern California and New York law enforcement officials, the statement said. 

"The false swatting threats made in this case drained law enforcement resources and caused a negative financial impact on local communities," the FBI statement said. "Evidence has shown that making false threats can cause significant distress to victims and can cause physical injury to first responders or other victims."

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