Swatting Celebrities, Political Enemies Is High-Tech Vengeance

Swatting is officially a thing. It made the front page of the Los Angeles Times today.

Not that the Times hasn't covered the phenomenon before, but this time it's real.

The report on people who call the police and say horrible crimes are in progress at the homes of celebrities like Simon Cowell, Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher comes ...

... nearly three weeks after LA Weekly published a story of our own on swatting. Ours focused on the politically suspicious swatting of L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Frey, who moonlights as conservative blogger Patterico.

Simone Wilson wrote in the Weekly:

The deputy DA believes his widely followed revelations about [former Congressman Anthony] Weiner's online escapades made Frey the target of a dangerous, unnerving hoax: a false 911 call that put Frey, his wife, Christi --a high-end sex-crimes prosecutor for the District Attorney -- and his two young children in the crosshairs of armed officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

On July 1, 2011, Frey, in his nighttime blogger role, was talking to a source over his cellphone just after 12:30 a.m. -- his wife and kids fast asleep upstairs in their Rancho Palos Verdes home -- when he heard a thunderous pounding at his front door.

"I was sitting right here in this chair," he says, re-enacting the haunting experience as he sits at his kitchen table, the South Bay harbor gleaming up through hot glass.

"I jumped up to the counter ... and peeked around the corner," he says. Five or six armed deputies on his porch were barking, "Come out with your hands up!"

As he opened the door, Frey, afraid to set down his cellphone -- any quick move could be deadly -- prayed they wouldn't mistake the device for a gun.

But the cops were cautious, and no shots were fired.

Kutcher got swatted.
Kutcher got swatted.

Fun for the whole family.

The Times' story is mostly about celebrity victims and the inability of police so far to capture any suspects (it's believed that callers use apps that disguise voices and sources of calls).

The paper does, however, revisit the Frey incident:

In full view of his startled neighbors, Frey was led out in shackles by five armed deputies after a male caller told responders at the Lomita sheriff's station that the deputy district attorney had shot his wife. Outside were four police cruisers, a fire truck, an ambulance, a hazardous materials van and a chopper shining a spotlight over his property. Frey's wife was awakened and frisked by police on the front porch while two officers checked on the couple's 8- and 11-year-old children sleeping upstairs.

"I'm dealing with psychopaths who know where I live," Frey said. "Someone had it in for me so much, they committed an act they knew could get me killed." No arrests have been made in the case.

So it's official: The new way to get back at your enemies. Except that it's not really good for the rest of us if we need police to do some real crime fighting.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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