'Swatting' probes continue in Miley Cyrus, Simon Cowell cases
Despite the arrest of an unidentified juvenile in a series of "swatting" incidents that targeted Ashton Kutcher and singer Justin Bieber, Los Angeles police said Tuesday that other investigations are continuing into incidents targeting others, including Miley Cyrus and Simon Cowell.
Department officials declined to discuss specifics but said detectives were making progress in multiple investigations -- not only involving Cyrus but other citizens and businesses in Los Angeles as well.
In Cyrus' case, LAPD officers went to the actress' Studio City home after a caller reported that several people were being held hostage after a shooting. The call was quickly deemed a hoax, but drew a significant police response.
Beverly Hills Police said they are continuing to investigate a report that someone had been tied up and needed help at "X Factor" judge Simon Cowell's house. That report also turned out to be false. The caller told police that the person had been tied up with duct tape at Cowell's home but gave an address outside city limits, according to authorities.
Beverly Hills Police Lt. Lincoln Hoshino said Tuesday that it's unknown whether the arrested juvenile was involved in the Cowell incident.
"It's currently still under investigation; our detectives are in contact with the LAPD detectives in regard to their arrest," Hoshino said.
The boy was arrested by the LAPD on Monday in connection with several 'swatting' cases, including those targeting Kutcher and Bieber. Authorities would not release additional details about the boy's identity, exact age or background.
The LAPD, which investigated the case with the Long Beach Police Department and FBI, said they have strong evidence linking the boy to several incidents that prompted a SWAT response, hence the term "swatting."
In the Oct. 10 incident, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies received a report claiming that a gunman had fired shots and was threatening to harm police when they showed up. The message was received through a TTY device typically used by the deaf to type text over the telephone.
Deputies were unaware it was Bieber's residence and arrived in force. They searched the home and interviewed people on the property who told them that no call had been made to authorities and that the pop star was away on tour. They determined the incident was a hoax.
A week earlier, Los Angeles police dispatched several units and tactical officers to Kutcher's home on Arrowhead Drive after they received a report through a TTY device from a woman who said she was hiding in a closet because there was a man with a gun inside her residence, according to sources familiar with the case.
But after interviewing workers who were briefly held at gunpoint at the actor's home, as well as contacting Kutcher himself, LAPD investigators determined the incident also was contrived.
"If these things continue, it's only a matter of time before a tragedy occurs," said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith. "We've got talented detectives who are committed to catching people who put other people's lives at risk with these dangerous pranks.
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Police continue to investigate a "swatting" incident at the home of Simon Cowell. Credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times