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California teen under investigation in hundreds of swatting incidents

Teen investigated in hundreds of swatting incidents
California teen under investigation in hundreds of swatting incidents 02:13

A California teen is suspected of being behind hundreds of dangerous swatting incidents, Florida prosecutors say.

Alan Winston Filion, 17, is accused of calling police in Seminole County, Florida, on May 12, 2023, and making a fake mass shooting threat on a local mosque.  

The male caller referenced Satanism, added audio of gunfire in the background, and said he was armed with pipe bombs and multiple firearms, prompting dozens of law enforcement officers to respond to the swatting call, per court documents filed in Seminole County court.

Florida state investigators, with the assistance of the FBI, identified Filion as the suspect in the incident, and his home in Lancaster, California was raided in July.

He was arrested Jan. 18 in California and extradited to Seminole County on Tuesday.

He has been charged as an adult in the incident and faces one felony count each of false report concerning planting of a bomb, unlawful use of a two-way communication device while facilitating or furthering an act of terrorism, a false report to law enforcement causing public safety agency, and a false report to law enforcement concerning commission of a capital felony while facilitating or furthering an act of terrorism.

Each count carries a maximum sentence of anywhere from five to 30 years in prison.

Investigators say Filion has been calling in numerous disturbing and fake threats. Along with Florida, he's allegedly targeted Washington state, Texas and Maryland, and at times included hate messages denigrating race, religion and sexual orientation aimed at mosques, synagogues and historically Black colleges and universities.

Court documents even point to Filion swatting FBI facilities.

Tracking him down was not easy. On Telegram, prosecutors say, he would disguise his identity with usernames like "Nazgul" and "Paimon Arnum," a fictional language from "The Lord of the Rings" books.

As investigators closed in on him, they discovered that the suspect was also selling swatting services, such as $40 for a gas leak and $75 for a bomb threat or mass shooting.

These fake threats taxed law enforcement resources and put real lives in danger.

"The ammunition is real, the guns are real, and the officers are responding at the highest level of their training, and it just puts a lot of people in a dangerous situation that's uncalled for," said A.T. Smith, former deputy director of the U.S. Secret Service.

Filion has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held without bail. His next hearing is scheduled for March 19.   

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