Person of interest linked to more than 100 swatting calls targeting Biden administration

Federal authorities have linked a person in Serbia to more than 100 swatting calls, many of which targeted senior Biden administration officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Cybersecurity, Infrastructure and Security Agency Director Jen Easterly.

Sources familiar with the matter told CBS News that U.S. Secret Service and FBI agents combed through a residence associated with a person of interest on Friday. They seized a trove of evidence, including computers and other electronic devices.

While charges have not yet been filed in connection with any of the swatting incidents, they are likely in the near future, according to the report. The person of interest is accused of making scores of swatting calls over the winter holidays.

Rep. Brandon Williams, a New York Republican was the victim of a swatting call on Christmas day. His spokesperson confirmed to CBS that his office was alerted to a “foreign national living overseas,” who has been located in connection with the incident.

Swatting is a type of cyber harassment involving a 911 call or emergency report regarding an active shooter situation or some sort of immediate danger that does not exist. The goal is to illicit a large police response that often includes the arrival of a SWAT team.

While swatting is often described as a prank, the consequences can actually be deadly.

In 2021, Tennessee man Mark Herring died of a heart attack after heavily armored law enforcement officers descended on his home. They were under the impression Herring killed a woman on the property. He was targeted in the swatting attack over his refusal to sell his Twitter handle, @Tennessee, police said.

And in 2017, Andrew Finch was fatally shot by a Wichita police officer, who believed he’d killed his father and was holding his mother and younger brother hostage. Tyler Barriss, an online gamer, made the call, but mistakenly gave police Finch’s address thinking it belonged to a rival, who owed him $1 or $2 over a Call of Duty wager.

Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus have also been victims of swatting.

Over the summer, the FBI launched a national database in response to an increase in swatting incidents.