Alan Winston Filion, a 17-year-old from California, is facing serious charges after being accused of orchestrating numerous swatting incidents across the United States, including a hoax at a mosque in Florida.
Filion was extradited to Florida on January 30 to face charges related to the swatting incident targeting the Masjid Al Hayy Mosque in Sanford, Florida.
Swatting, an illegal practice that involves making false reports to law enforcement in order to prompt a large-scale response, has been a growing concern for authorities, with Filion allegedly responsible for hundreds of such incidents targeting various locations and individuals.
According to court documents and statements from law enforcement officials, Filion threatened a mass shooting at the Florida mosque during a May 2023 phone call to law enforcement.
In the call, Filion claimed to possess a handgun and explosive devices, sparking a massive response from approximately 30 law enforcement officers to the mosque.
“Swatting is a perilous and senseless crime, which puts innocent lives in dangerous situations and drains valuable resources,” said Sheriff Dennis Lemma of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office — one of the responding agencies.
County authorities worked diligently with federal agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Justice, to track the origin of the hoax call, leading them to Filion’s home address in California.
The investigation revealed that Filion had created multiple accounts on websites offering swatting services, and various IP addresses linked to these accounts ultimately led authorities to him.
In a motion filed by the government to secure Filion’s detention, it was revealed that he allegedly targeted not only the Florida mosque but also high schools, historically Black colleges, FBI offices and agents, as well as making threats to bomb military bases and the Pentagon.
Filion has also been charged as an adult and faces three felony charges of false reporting, along with a felony charge of unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Each charge accuses him of committing the acts while facilitating or furthering an act of terrorism and while showing prejudice.
Filion, who has entered a plea of not guilty, remains in custody without bail at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility. An attorney representing him declined to comment on the case.
Swatting incidents have garnered significant attention in recent years, particularly as they have targeted high-profile individuals and locations, including political figures and government buildings.
Authorities note that swatting not only endangers innocent lives but also ties up crucial law enforcement and emergency resources.
Sheriff Lemma reaffirmed the commitment of law enforcement to apprehend swatting perpetrators.
“Make no mistake, we will continue to work tirelessly in collaboration with our policing partners and the judiciary to apprehend swatting perpetrators,” Lemma said.
Swatting remains a challenging crime to combat, with perpetrators often employing technology to disguise their identity and location. Despite the difficulties, authorities are dedicated to holding individuals like Filion accountable for their actions.