ALEXANDRIA — The U.S. Justice Department has charged a former Virginia college student with calling in fake emergencies to prompt law enforcement responses, in coordination with a group the FBI has labeled as sympathetic to neo-Nazi ideology.
John William Kirby Kelley, 19, was charged last week with conspiracy to make threats. He's accused of being part of a network that “shared racist views” and had a “particular disdain for African Americans and Jewish people,” according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Friday.
The affidavit says the group targeted such people in so-called swatting attacks coordinated in online chatrooms. Swatting is a practice in which fake emergencies are called in to authorities to draw a large response by law enforcement.
The affidavit also said the group maintained a list of victims on a site called Doxbin, which hosts the personal information of journalists, government officials and company executives, news outlets reported.
An investigation into Kelley began in November 2018, when Old Dominion University received a call that someone armed with an AR-15 had hidden pipe bombs on campus. Police received a call hours later from someone with a similar voice who said he had dialed accidentally. Police and FBI investigators compared the voices on both calls, and investigators matched email accounts and phone numbers connecting Kelley to the calls, according to the affidavit.
Kelley was later expelled from Old Dominion while facing unrelated drug charges.
Authorities later linked the group Kelley is accused of being a part of to another November 2018 bomb threat, this time at a predominantly African American church in Old Town Alexandria. Alfred Street Baptist Church was evacuated by police during evening services.
The group has been linked to similar calls in the Alexandria area, as well as hundreds of others across the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada, the affidavit says.