Exclusive: Boy arrested in Bieber, Kutcher ‘swatting’ cases
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Los Angeles police arrested an unidentified juvenile in a series of ‘swatting’ incidents that targeted celebrities, including actor Ashton Kutcher and singer Justin Bieber, department officials said Tuesday.
Authorities would say only that the suspect was arrested Dec. 10 at his parents’ Southern California home. They would not release additional details about his identity, exact age or background. The LAPD, which investigated the case with the Long Beach Police Department and FBI, cautioned that the investigation was ongoing.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said investigators have strong evidence linking the boy to several incidents involving calls or electronic messages that were sent to police and prompted a tactical response including call-outs of SWAT officers, hence the term ‘swatting.’
The boy targeted Kutcher and Bieber, as well as several other victims that included local businesses, according to Smith. Investigators do not believe at this time that Miley Cyrus, whose residence also was targeted in a ‘swatting’ hoax, was part of the boy’s alleged pranks.
‘We take these incidents very seriously because of the tremendous potential for something tragic to occur,’ Smith said. ‘We are working with the city attorney’s office to see if the parents of this boy can be held financially responsible for the cost of the police response.’
In one of the incidents Oct. 10, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies received a report claiming a gunman had fired shots and was threatening to harm police when they showed up. The message was received through a TTY device typically used by the deaf to type text over the telephone. Unaware it was Bieber’s residence, deputies arrived in force. They searched Bieber’s residence and interviewed people on the property who told them no call had been made to authorities and that the pop star was away on tour at the time of the incident. They determined the incident was a hoax.
A week earlier, Los Angeles police dispatched several units and tactical officers to Kutcher’s home on Arrowhead Drive after they received a report through a TTY device from a woman who said she was hiding in a closet because there was a man with a gun inside her residence, according to sources familiar with the case.
But after interviewing workers who were briefly held at gunpoint at the actor’s home, as well as contacting Kutcher himself, LAPD investigators determined the incident also was contrived.
-- Andrew Blankstein