On September 1 at approximately 7:17 p.m., Steve Bannon's home in Washington, D.C., and “War Room” headquarters was swatted. This is the second time in two months that Bannon, former chief strategist to former President Donald Trump, has been the victim of a swatting incident.
Swatting is a cyber harassment technique in which a false report of criminal activity is sent to law enforcement with the goal of having an armed emergency response team dispatched to a victim's location.
Within hours of President Joe Biden's speech castigating “MAGA Republicans” and identifying them as a “threat to this country,” police were called to Bannon's residence in the 200 block of A Street NE. They had received a tip that there was an active threat of a shooter. Firefighters and paramedics also reported to the scene.
According to Fox News, police quickly determined that no shots had been fired and that there was no active threat. Bannon was allegedly not at home at the time.
Bannon told the Daily Mail that the White House's use of inflammatory rhetoric seemed intended to prompt leftist extremists to kill their political opponents. “This is 100 percent triggered by the White House: the White House spokeswoman earlier that day, Biden's announcements over the last couple of days. The White House is trying to use this type of violence,” he said. “They're stirring up the unstable people on the far left to do this.”
Swatting can be used as a form of indirect assassination. A number of past false reports have resulted in deaths.
In 2017, 28-year-old Andrew Finch was killed in a swatting incident. Law enforcement, responding to a fake hostage threat in Wichita, Kansas, killed Finch when he answered the door. The agitator responsible for getting Finch killed, Tyler Rai Barriss, was also held responsible for several other swattings. He pled guilty to 51 federal charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Mark Herring was another such swatting victim. When Tennessee police were dispatched to his house in April 2020 in response to a fake emergency call, Herring suffered a fatal heart attack.
Just as swatting victims sometimes end up gravely injured or dead, police are similarly at risk.
Police Chief Louis Ross was shot multiple times in 2015 when he, along with other Oklahoma police, busted down swatting victim Dallas Horton's door. Ross survived, thanks to a ballistic vest, and Horton was not charged. The swatter was, however, arrested and charged with making a bomb threat.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is a recent victim of two consecutive swattings.
Greene's swatting on August 25 was the result of a message sent to a suicide crisis center alleging that an individual had come “out as transgender” and “shot the family.” The caller also stated, “If anyone tried to stop me from shooting myself, I will shoot them,” and indicated they were ready to fire upon police.
Greene suggested that it was Providence she didn't answer the door while armed, otherwise the swatting would have claimed her life. “I just believe that it was truly a God thing that I had that feeling not to carry that gun with me to the door,” she said. “Had I have done that … I probably would have been the target.”
“The calls are very specific and the calls are to trigger the police to use deadly force,” said Bannon.
He was previously swatted on July 8 around 10:45 a.m. while his radio show was live. Heavily armed members of the Metropolitan Police Department and U.S. Capitol Police swarmed the 68-year-old's house and, as a precaution, shut down several roads near the Capitol and Supreme Court.
Although Bannon regarded both swatting incidents as politically motivated attempts on his life, he suggested that death would be the left's only way of ending his involvement in the American political scene. “I'm never going to stop, so they'll have to kill me first.”
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