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Tallahassee Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal > 17-Year-Old Boy Charged in “Swatting” Hoax Against Florida Mosque

17-Year-Old Boy Charged in “Swatting” Hoax Against Florida Mosque


A teenager from California has been charged by Florida authorities for calling in a fake threat of a mass shooting against a Florida mosque. The teenager has been extradited to Florida to face the charges here. According to reports, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office charged the 17-year-old with multiple felonies for making the call. The practice is known as “swatting” and has resulted in deaths before. Swatting is an illegal practice of attempting to trick law enforcement into responding to a serious threat such as a mass shooting. Law enforcement and SWAT teams are dispatched to the location in an attempt to secure the area. In many cases, law enforcement is geared up for a potential battle and in some instances, they have killed unsuspecting victims who were otherwise obeying the law and minding their own business within their homes. Incidents of swatting have risen dramatically over the past few years. Often schools, religious centers, or politicians are the targets of swatting calls.

On May 12, 2023, law enforcement responded to a call from a male voice stating that he had a handgun and explosive devices and was “going to kill everyone” inside of Masjid Al Hayy Mosque in Sanford, FL. The call ended with the sound of weapons firing in the background, according to police. Law enforcement descended on the area but found nothing amiss.

Investigators believe that the same teen who called in the threat to Masjid Al Hayy may have been connected to other swatting incidents. According to police records, dispatchers received calls from the same voice-over-IP number claiming similar threats to at least two other Florida mosques on the same day. That day, Daytona Beach police responded to a fake call of a bomb threat against the Islamic Center of Daytona Beach.

Analyzing the charges 

The California teen faces several felony charges including:

  • Making a false report about explosives or the use of firearms
  • Unlawful use of a two-way communication device
  • Making a false report to law enforcement concerning the commission of a capital felony
  • Making a false report to law enforcement causing a public safety agency response

Swatting is a relatively new offense and there are few laws on the books that deal specifically with committing a hoax against law enforcement to trigger a violent response. In 2021, in an effort to crack down on swatting, Florida legislators passed HB 371 which made swatting a third-degree felony if anyone was injured as a result of a hoax call, and a second-degree felony if anyone was killed in the process. Anyone convicted of swatting is required to pay full restitution for any costs incurred by law enforcement. Prior, making a false call to police was considered a misdemeanor under Florida law. Efforts to introduce stricter legislation at the federal level are currently underway.

Talk to a Tallahassee Criminal Defense Lawyer Today 

The Tallahassee criminal defense lawyers at Luke Newman, P.A. represent the interests of Florida residents who have been charged with serious crimes. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.



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