“Swatting,” if you’re unaware, is a prank where some calls in a fake emergency in a targeted effort to generate a huge response from law enforcement. It’s never funny, it’s always dangerous and apparently it’s being weaponized by racists.
NBC News reports that John William Kirby Kelley, a 19-year-old man from Virginia, was charged with conspiracy to make threats by the U.S Justice Department. He’s currently accused of being apart of a group that “shared racist views” and had a “particular disdain for African Americans and Jewish people,” according to an unsealed affidavit. The group would coordinate swatting attacks in digital chatrooms and would targeted them at people belonging to both minority groups. The affidavit also mentioned that the group utilized a site called Doxbin that held the personal information of journalists and government officials to keep a list of their victims.
The investigation into Kelley began back in Nov. 2018 when Old Dominion University in Norfolk received a call that someone was armed with an AR-15 and had hidden pipe bombs around the campus. Police received a call a few hours later from someone with a similar voice. After comparing the voices on both calls they found that it was Kelley. The group Kelley is allegedly linked to is also being accused for another Nov. 2018 bomb threat placed at Alfred Street Baptist Church. The church has a predominately black congregation.
Swatting is something that has long been a plague in gaming communities. There have been numerous incidents in the prior years of people streaming games on Twitch only for someone to call a SWAT team on them. In Sep. 2019, Tyler Barriss was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a Swatting prank resulted in police shooting and killing 28-year-old Andrew Finch. To see this technique adopted by neo-nazi’s, knowing the police’s track record when it comes to shooting unarmed black people, is unnerving to say the least.