Wilmington Police SWAT

A New Mexico man who pleaded guilty to placing "swatting" calls to Georgetown Elementary School and a Walmart in the same town was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday. 

According to the DOJ, Stephen S. Landes, 29, of Roswell, conducted what's called "swatting"--making hoax calls to elicit an armed police response to a given location--by making bomb threats to those Georgetown locations in May 2018. 

Landes admitted to impersonating a Georgetown resident and said he was using a bomb to hold a child hostage at the Walmart on May 9 around 1:45 p.m., demanding $20,000 or he'd blow up the store. The store was evacuated. He called the school a short time later, pretending to be the same resident, and said he had two children buried in the basement with a bomb. 

“This defendant purposely targeted an elementary school because he knew that  his bomb threat would cause an immediate and intense response by law enforcement," said U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware David C. Weiss. "Georgetown Elementary School shares a campus with the Georgetown Kindergarten Center and Georgetown Middle School. Approximately 2,000 children were impacted by the defendant’s unconscionable actions. Children in our community deserve to attend school free from the fear and confusion caused by threats of this kind. Swatting calls also put law enforcement, the intended targets and innocent bystanders at unnecessary risk."

Landes pled guilty in federal court in August 2019 to interstate threats concerning the use of an explosive, and was sentenced Wednesday, November 27, to 27 months in prison.