Riverside man accused of making multiple swatting calls, threatening to shoot up schools

Jory Rand Image
Thursday, May 23, 2024
Riverside man accused of making swatting calls threatening schools
A Riverside man is facing several charges for allegedly making a series of swatting calls and threatening to commit mass violence at several schools.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- A Riverside man is facing several charges for allegedly making a series of swatting calls and threatening to commit mass shootings at several schools in the Inland Empire and Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Eduardo Vicente Pelayo Rodriguez, 31, is charged with one count of stalking, seven counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce, seven counts of engaging in hoaxes and three counts of transmitting threats or false information regarding fire and explosives, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Swatting is the practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.

"The sorts of 'swatting' crimes alleged against this defendant are highly troubling," U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. "The indictment alleges that the defendant placed calls to schools, airports, and other locations that were designed to cause maximum fear and trigger an emergency response."

Rodriguez was arrested Tuesday, and his arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges that Rodriguez in January and February 2023 used a voice-over-internal protocol service to make more than a dozen calls pretending to be a victim.

He called a suicide prevention center and a veterans crisis hotline and claimed he was contemplating suicide or killing others, according to the indictment.

Rodriguez allegedly then called school staff at seven different schools - in Riverside and in San Bernardino counties, as well as in Sandy Hook, Connecticut - and threatened to commit either a mass shooting or a bombing at the schools.

Prosecutors also allege that Rodriguez called Nashville International Airport in Tennessee and claimed he had planted a bomb on a plane and in the airport, and said, "this is for ISIS," and "one hour, boom."

Law enforcement determined the threats were fake when they responded to the phone calls, prosecutors said.

"Mr. Rodriguez is alleged to have conducted swatting attacks, to include the callous targeting of an open wound at Sandy Hook, without regard for the potential consequences of this insidious type of hoax,'' Los Angeles FBI Field Office Acting Assistant Director Krysti Hawkins said. "Perpetrators of swatting hoaxes should understand the FBI and our local partners take these threats seriously and that the penalties - if convicted - are considerable."

If convicted on all charges, Rodriguez faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison on the stalking count, five years on each of the threats counts, five years on each of the hoax counts, and 10 years on each of the counts relating to fire and explosives.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.