California Man Pleads Guilty to Making Church Point School Shooting Threat
LAFAYETTE, LA—United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that a California man pleaded guilty to communicating a hoax that a school shooting would occur in Church Point, La.
Randall Swanson, 54, of Sacramento, Calif., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik to one count of false information or hoaxes. According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, during an online conversation on December 15, 2012, Swanson sent an online message to a person he believed to be from Church Point, that “the next school massacre happing in ur town.” Swanson followed the online message with photographs and other information about how the crime would occur. Swanson sent the message the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. Swanson also sent pictures from Church Point indicating he was present in Church Point. The victim who received the messages contacted local and state authorities. Swanson later admitted he was in California when the messages were sent, and his intentions were to alarm the person he had been messaging online.
Swanson faces five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date was not set.
“The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was a tragedy that our state and nation mourned,” Finley stated. “This defendant used that tragedy to perpetuate a hoax and caused confusion wasting the time and resources of first responders in the region. Those who make such false threats will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The FBI, Louisiana State Police and Church Point Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Myers P. Namie is prosecuting the case.