LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say three teenagers driven by racial hatred were behind hoax calls that brought major police responses to the home of a leading Black Lives Matter activist in Los Angeles.
The teenagers, aged 13 to 16, connected over the Discord chat platform and are suspects in more than 30 bomb threats and so-called “swatting” incidents across the country, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Swatting is a fake emergency call that’s made in order to draw police officers to an address.
They are accused of perpetrating two fake swatting calls — one this past September and another in August 2021 — at the LA home of Melina Abdullah, co-founder of BLM-LA and a Cal State Los Angeles professor.
Abdullah was not identified by police as a teenager victim, but she was listed as having been in her block at the time of the two swatting attacks.
Los Angeles police said Friday that the teens were behind hoaxes dating back to July 2020 that targeted “other online persons, video gamers, activists, schools, airports, houses of worship, entertainment venues and memorial parks.”
Police will present a case to Los Angeles County prosecutors for criminal conspiracy and creating a false emergency charges and plan to request a hate crime enhancement in connection with the incidents at Abdullah’s home.
“Some of the language used in the swatting incidents and a review of the subjects’ online activities reflect a racial motivation theme to a number of these swatting attacks,” the LAPD said in a news release.
The two teenagers are from Ohio and New York. Authorities issued search warrants Tuesday. Third teenager, a U.S citizen, is currently in Cyprus.
Abdullah has been a vocal critic of police in the past. She condemned the LAPD’s response to her home. They placed armed SWAT officers around her house and ordered her to get outside using a loudspeaker. She has a pending lawsuit against the department For its actions during the Aug. 12, 2019, swatting.
Abdullah told the Los Angeles Times on Friday that she doubted the LAPD’s information regarding the teenagers. She also said the teenagers’ alleged actions do not excuse the police officers’ tactics at her home.
“Even if what they’re saying is true, the police — LAPD — used this opening as an opportunity to attempt to terrorize me and my family,” Abdullah told the newspaper.
Abdullah told The Associated Press that she will be making a statement via social media when she is reached on Friday.