DeQuincy, LA — In a Louisiana courtroom today, 15-year-old Paul Horner broke down in tears after a judge found the young man guilty on two counts of domestic terrorism and was sentenced to twenty-five years to life in federal prison.
Horner is the first person in history to be charged with what is known as ‘swatting‘, a growing trend in which a person anonymously files a false police report, such as a murder or bomb threat, in hopes of provoking the police to raid an individual’s home or business. Prosecutors in the case proved that Horner called in multiple false threats against rival online gamers, resulting in SWAT team raids of their residence.
“Swatting” is a new fad among gamers targeting those who “livestream“, broadcasting themselves and their game play live over the Internet to fans and in-game rivals alike. If a gamer is able to ascertain the personal information of a rival, by locating their IP and residential address, they will call in a dangerous threat to law enforcement and watch as the “livestreamer’s” house is forcibly entered by police.
The practice of “SWATTING” was recently brought to national attention by the YouTube video: The Creatures (Kootra) got SWAT Raided (SWATTED) #FreeKootra2014. Law Enforcement agencies say that the practice, which has been occurring with increasing frequency since 2013, wastes valuable resources and places innocent people in harm’s way. The 2014 incident, which resulted in the charges against Horner, are a prime example of this.
Defense lawyers told the courtroom that Horner, who goes by the gamertag BadAssDwg69, was upset after being repeatedly beaten by a fellow gamer at Battlefield 4. After obtaining the rival gamers information, prosecutors say Horner called police and reported a murder/hostage situation at the home. SWAT team then raided the house, shooting and critically injuring the “Livestreamer’s” father in the process. Following an investigation of the incident, Horner was charged as an adult, using provisions of the 2001 Patriot Act. Horner’s guilty charge stems from two counts of domestic terrorism, related to his manipulation of an enforcement response, and injuries to innocents resulting from those actions.
Prosecutors played audio of Horner’s 911 phone call to the jury:
“I just shot and killed four people. If any police enter my home I will kill them too,” the statement read in part.