Canadian teen arrested for Greenwich hostage hoax

The FBI believes a Canadian teenage boy is the person responsible for a hoax call in Greenwich last month that spurred fears of a hostage situation.

The teen, whose name has not been released of his status as a juvenile, was arrested May 8 in Ottawa after an investigation involving multiple Canadian and American law enforcement agencies. The boy allegedly called Greenwich Police on April 17 and claimed that he had a weapon and several hostages inside a backcountry home. Police responded and closed off a block in the 600 section of Round Hill Road, an exclusive Greenwich neighborhood. But the investigation ultimately revealed that this was a hoax.

At the time of the incident, GPD Capt. Robert Berry said police then responded to the area and set up a perimeter, closing the portion of the street to through traffic, as attempts were made to contact the residents. But when this happened Capt. Berry said that no one responded at the house or at the phone number from which the original call was made.

Contact was eventually made with some of the people living in the house, who were not there at the time, but not all could be located, meaning police stayed in the area guarding the scene until contact with all of them could be established, ensuring that they were safe and nothing was really happening. Once the hoax was confirmed, police left the area and continued the investigation into finding who had made the call.

GPD Public Information Officer Lt. Kraig Gray noted at the time that the call was one a national trend recently of people misusing police resources by calling in hoax emergency calls, something which is known as “swatting” since it typically calls for SWAT resources or tactical teams to be used.

“The individuals who engage in this activity use technology to make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone,” Lt. Gray said. “Sometimes swatting is done for revenge, other times as a prank. The FBI believes that most who engage in swatting are serial offenders who are also involved in other cyber-crimes such as identity theft and credit card fraud, exploiting the inherent anonymity of the Internet, plus the ready availability of technology to mask their identity. Hoax calls or making false reports to law enforcement are serious crimes which are frightening to the target and surrounding community, cause an unnecessary drain on resources and potentially puts lives in danger.”

And now it appears that the boy responsible for the call might be involved in other swatting incidents. According to the FBI, the boy allegedly also pulled the hoax in Florida, California, Maryland and New York.

“The nature of the false threats received by the schools varied,” the FBI said in a press release issued by Public Affairs Specialist Laura Eimiller. “In some cases, police were falsely warned of explosives, hostage-taking, and the threat of an active shooter.”

The Post will have more details as they become available.


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