Washington Man Sentenced to Prison for Targeting Girl with Fake Bomb Threats

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Written By Lori Walker

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A man from Washington state was sentenced to three years in prison for making fake bomb threats to a 12-year-old girl in Shaker Heights and WJW Channel 8. Ashton Garcia, 21, targeted the girl because she was Black and the TV station because he was bored. He made 20 hoax calls, known as swatting, in 11 states and Canada over four months starting in June 2022.

Garcia used voice-changing technology to disguise himself and made it hard for the police to trace the calls. He pleaded guilty to extortion and making threats or hoaxes regarding explosives.

Prosecutors said Garcia enjoyed scaring people and treated swatting as a game, putting police officers’ lives at risk. He would often taunt police after making the calls and even set up chatrooms to discuss his hoaxes.

He targeted people based on race, sexual orientation, or randomly. He once called the police to a neighbor’s house just to watch their response. In July 2022, he started harassing the 12-year-old girl, threatening to swat her home if she didn’t send him her parents’ credit card photos.

Garcia made a fake call to Shaker Heights police, claiming a false emergency at the girl’s home. The police rushed to the scene, finding her alone. He also made two more swatting calls to her home.

A week later, Garcia called in a fake bomb threat to Channel 8, claiming he had planted a pipe bomb there. He also revealed personal information of a police officer while on the phone with her. He later admitted he did it because he was bored.

In other incidents, he forced a 14-year-old girl to carve his social media handle into her thigh, posed as an 8-year-old boy who shot his mother in Canada, and terrorized a Colorado teacher who survived a school shooting. He also targeted a transgender woman, a judge, and Los Angeles International Airport with false threats.

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