A New Mexico man was sentenced to two years and three months for “swatting” threats to a school and a Walmart in Georgetown.
Stephen S. Landes, 29, of Roswell pled guilty in August to one count of Interstate Threats Concerning the Use of an Explosive.
According to court documents, on May 9, 2018, Landes called Walmart in Georgetown, from Roswell and asked to speak with a manager. Landes impersonated a resident of Georgetown and stated that he had a bomb and was holding a child hostage in the bathroom.
Landes demanded $20,000 and threatened to blow-up the Walmart if he did not receive the money.
Law enforcement from Georgetown Police, Delaware State Police and Delaware Natural Resources Police responded to the Walmart and evacuated the store. K9 units searched the Walmart but did not find any bomb.
A few minutes later, Landes called Georgetown Elementary School. Landes claimed to be the same resident of Georgetown as before and told the person who answered the phone that he had two children buried in his basement, with a bomb at the school, court documents indicated.
School administrators locked down the school and called 911. Law enforcement units from the Delaware State Police and the Georgetown Police Department responded to the elementary school immediately. K9 units searched the school but found no bomb or other threats.
Landes made the bomb threats for the purpose of “swatting” a Delaware resident, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for Delaware.
“Swatting” involves making hoax emergency calls in order that result in an armed police response (SWAT team) to harass someone believed to be at the location of the purported emergency.
“The actions of Stephen Landes exposed our community and first responders to unnecessary danger. I applaud the work of United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, Mr. (David) Weiss, our F.B.I. partners and the Delaware State Police for their ongoing support and commitment to local law enforcement and the communities we serve,” stated Georgetown Police Chief R.L. Hughes.