CISA boss swatted: 'While my own experience was certainly harrowing, it was unfortunately not unique'

Election officials, judges, politicians, and gamers are in swatters' crosshairs

CISA Director Jen Easterly has confirmed she was the subject of a swatting attempt on December 30 after a bogus report of a shooting at her home.

Easterly described the incident as a "harrowing" experience in an official statement:

One of the most troubling trends we have seen in recent years has been the harassment of public officials across the political spectrum, including extreme incidents involving swatting and direct personal threats. These incidents pose a serious risk to the individuals, their families, and in the case of swatting, to the law enforcement officers responding to the situation.

While my own experience was certainly harrowing, it was unfortunately not unique. In particular, several of our nation's election officials have also been targeted with this type of harassment and other threats of violence. The men and women of both parties who run our elections work tirelessly to ensure their security and integrity. We at CISA, along with our partners, will continue to support these election heroes as they work every day to safeguard our most sacred democratic process.

Swatting — calling in a hoax an emergency report for a serious crime to bring heavily armed law enforcement officers onto the scene can sometimes turn deadly, as was the case with a Kansas man who was killed by police in 2017 when a California gamer made a fake emergency call after a dispute over a Call of Duty session.

Over the last few months, criminals have also been using this tactic in extortion attempts and trying to force victim organizations, specifically hospitals and medical clinics, to pay ransom demand by swatting their patients.

The Record first reported that police in Arlington County, Virginia, were investigating a 911 call on the evening of December 30 that falsely claimed a shooting had occurred inside a home on Easterly's block. The CISA declined to answer questions about who was behind the crime or why Easterly was targeted. 

Several politicians and election officials have been targeted by swatting attempts over the last couple months as the US gears up for a contentious 2024 presidential election. These include Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, following her decision that Donald Trump was ineligible to be on her state's primary ballot.

Other calls and threats have been made against judges overseeing cases against Trump; Democratic and Republican politicians; a prosecutor; the White House; and various state capitol buildings. ®

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