Tuesday, January 14, 2020 9:48 AM EST
By The Associated Press, AP
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department has charged a former Virginia college student with calling in fake emergencies to prompt law enforcement responses, in coordination with a group the FBI labelled as sympathetic to neo-Nazi ideology.
John William Kirby Kelley, 19, was charged last week with conspiracy to make threats. He's accused of being part of a network that “shared racist views” and had a “particular disdain for African Americans and Jewish people,” targeting such individuals in so-called swatting attacks coordinated in online chatrooms, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Friday. Swatting is a practice in which fake emergencies are called in to authorities to draw a large law enforcement response.
The affidavit also said the group maintained a list of victims on a site called Doxbin, which hosts the personal information of journalists, government officials and company executives, news outlets reported.
An investigation into Kelley began in November 2018, when Old Dominion University in Norfolk received a call that someone armed with an AR-15 had hidden pipe bombs on campus. Police received a call hours later from someone with a similar voice who said he had dialed accidentally. Police and FBI investigators compared the voices on both calls and investigators matched email accounts and phone numbers connecting Kelley to the calls, the documents detailed.
He was expelled from Old Dominion about a year after the call was placed as he faced unrelated state drug charges.
Authorities later linked the group Kelley is accused of being a part of to another November 2018 bomb threat, this time at the predominantly African American Alfred Street Baptist Church in Old Town Alexandria. The church was evacuated by police during evening services. The group is also linked to similar calls in the Alexandria area as well as hundreds of others across the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada, the documents allege.
During a court appearance Friday, Kelley's public defender didn't' comment on the allegations, The Washington Post reported. His next court date is scheduled for Wednesday, WTTG-TV says.