By Robert Frank
Ottawa Police have laid 60 criminal charges against a local 16-year-old boy whom they said had placed fake emergency calls across North America.
The youth allegedly targeted six Laval locations as part of his mayhem, including three false alarms directed at Georges Vanier High School, one at Carrefour Laval and two at Laval residences.
Investigators here quickly concluded that the pranks were linked to other investigations in Ontario, New York, California, Florida and Pennsylvania. The youth is reportedly alleged to have targeted sites in Alberta, Texas and the United Kingdom as well.
Police told The Suburban that the alleged attacks were a new internet phenomenon called swatting. The objective is to instigate a fake emergency call with the objective of getting local police to needlessly deploy their special operations squads, known as SWAT teams.
SWAT teams are made up police officers who are specially equipped, trained and organized to respond to rampant shooting incidents and bomb threats and other imminent dangers to the public.
The youth, who appeared in court May 8, was the object of a massive international investigation that also involved the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sûreté du Québec, and municipal police in Calgary, Laval, Halton, Ontario, and elsewhere. In accordance with Canada’s Youth Offenders Act, he cannot be identified publicly because he is under the age of 18.
Police allege that more than 25 of the threats that he made targeted locations in the United States. They said that after the arrest, they searched his home and seized computing and telephone devices as well as firearms and ammunition.
The charges against the lad include public mischief, mischief against public property, uttering death threats and conveying false information with the intent to alarm.
Police are investigating possible links with a 15-year-old Laval boy who was charged with the scares here, and a 16-year-old Milton, Ontario, boy whom local police arrested May 2 and charged with a similar alleged infraction that targeted a local high school.
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