A fake report of a shooting at the Oak Harbor High School a year ago was likely committed by a California teenager suspected of being responsible for dozens of “swatting” calls across the country, according to the Oak Harbor Police Department.
Alan Winston Filion, a 17-year-old resident of Lancaster, California, was arrested on Jan. 18 and charged as an adult on four felony charges, including falsely reporting an act of terrorism with a bomb or weapon of mass destruction, according to a statement from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.
In the Florida case, Filion is accused of making a false report of a mass shooting at a mosque last year. As a result of the fake call, more than 30 officers responded to the mosque but found everyone was safe.
The FBI reports that instances of swatting are increasing nationwide. Swatting is a crime in which a person deceives the police into responding to an emergency that does not exist, potentially creating a dangerous situation.
In February 2023, a false report of a shooting at Oak Harbor High School generated a large response from the Oak Harbor Police Department, the Island County Sheriff’s Office, the Oak Harbor Fire Department, WhidbeyHealth EMS, the State Patrol and Oak Harbor Public Works. A Life Flight helicopter from the hospital took to the air as a precaution and the ER called in extra doctors.
The school district locked down the high school and a nearby elementary school.
The school resource officer was on scene, however, and ascertained that there was no shooting. The police searched the school and found nothing out of the ordinary.
Police, hospital and school officials said at the time that they were pleased with the pace and efficiency of the response, even though it was ultimately a waste of resources.
WIRED reported that Filion’s arrest was the culmination of a multi-agency manhunt for the person responsible for swatting attacks on “high schools, historically Black colleges and universities, mosques and federal agents, and for threats to bomb the Pentagon, members of the United States Senate and the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Investigators looking into swatting calls made to Anacortes High School last fall discovered comments made on a messaging app by a user who claimed responsibility for swat calls to schools in Washington, WIRED reported; the discovery eventually led to Filion.