Juvenile arrested in connection with 'swatting' of OC Synagogues

A juvenile suspect was taken into custody in connection with alleged "swatting" attacks targeting synagogues in Tustin and Fullerton, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested the suspect Tuesday morning, according to the FBI. No specifics were provided regarding the exact location of the arrest, and the juvenile suspect was not identified due to age.

The juvenile was expected to be charged at the state level by the Orange County District Attorney's Office in connection with the two alleged swatting incidents, which are fake reports of crimes designed to generate large responses by law enforcement.

SUGGESTED: Several San Fernando Valley schools locked down after receiving threatening, possible 'swatting', phone calls

Federal officials said the local suspect was part of a wider online swatting ring.

"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," according to 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 server hosting the suspected swatting network has since been removed after investigators from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, with the assistance of Southern California and New York law enforcement, compiled information leading to the alleged creator of the network.

FBI officials said the network " included members who espoused extremist views, to include the glorification of highly publicized mass killers."

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