A Delaware man was indicted by a federal grand jury for harassing people around the country by making hoax emergency calls which would result in a heavy police presence responding to the victim's location, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
Officials said Rodney Phipps, 29, of Georgetown, would place calls known as "swatting," which would result in SWAT teams being dispatched to homes where police believed a dangerous situation was unfolding. Between August 2015 and August 2017, Phipps placed swatting calls in Harrison, New Jersey; Opelousas, Louisiana; Russel County, Kentucky; Pasco County, Florida; and Forsyth County, Georgia, during which he made claims of made-up murders, shootings, arsons, and hostage situations that were or would be taking place.
“Swatting phone calls have the potential to put the lives of law enforcement officers, the intended victim, and innocent bystanders at risk," said David C. Weiss, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, in a release. "Responding to such calls also misdirects resources from local law enforcement and emergency service agencies that could have been used for legitimate emergencies. My office will prosecute those who engage in swatting activity to the fullest extent allowed by law.”
The calls included explicit threats that the caller would shoot responding law enforcement officers, provoking a heavy response from police.
Phipps was charged with five counts making interstate threats and one count making a false threat involving explosives.
He faces a maximum sentence of 35 years if convicted n all charges.