Sheriff Ronnie Fields announced an arrest following an attempted “swatting” incident in Vass, said Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields in a statement issued to Sandhills Sentinel.
On the evening of Oct. 16, the Moore County Sheriff’s Office received a false report of multiple people being shot at a residence in Vass. Responding deputies were able to evaluate the circumstances and determine that a shooting had not occurred prior to deployment of the Sheriff’s Response Team.
Sheriff’s investigators quickly traced the false report to a single person, Austin Dow, in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Dow allegedly made the report as revenge over a failed internet relationship with a local female. Dow allegedly demanded money from the female under threats of calling law enforcement prior to making the report.
On Dec. 5, sheriff’s investigators arrested Dow, age 18, after he was brought to North Carolina to face criminal charges. Dow was charged with one count of felony extortion, one count of felony conspiracy, one count of misdemeanor conspiracy, filing a false police report, and interfering with emergency communications and was released to the custody of his parents pending a first court appearance in Moore County district court on Dec. 6.
“Swatting” is an attempt to elicit a significant law enforcement response to a false report of violence, and such attempts have become prominent throughout the country in recent years. Sheriff Fields credits proper training and technological advances with being able to resolve this incident in an appropriate manner.
Defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Photo via Moore County Sheriff’s Office.