Prosecutor: Teen Had Very Bad Plan to Get Friend Off Work

Missouri man allegedly made 'swatting' call that forced evacuation of Ford plant
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2023 11:30 AM CDT
Teen Allegedly 'Swatted' Ford Plant to Get Friend Off Work
Zachariah Peterson.   (Clay County Sheriff's Office)

A 19-year-old man in Missouri allegedly had a plan to get his friend off work and in one way, it was a success: Ford's assembly plant in Claycomo, near Kansas City, was evacuated and production was halted Tuesday night after a caller said they were barricaded in a second-floor bathroom with firearms and explosives, Reuters reports. The cost to Independence resident Zachariah Peterson, however, could be up to seven years in prison and a $10,000 fine if he is found guilty of making a terroristic threat. Authorities say dozens of officers responded to the call and spent six hours searching the enormous facility. Some 2,200 workers were evacuated.

Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson said Peterson made the "swatting" call to get his friend off work, though there's no immediate sign the friend knew about the plan, KSHB reports. "When someone makes a call like that, they pull law enforcement officers away from their duties, keeping our community safe," Thompson said. "In Clay County, we treat this type of crime with the seriousness it deserves." He praised police for "heroically" entering the plant to investigate the threat. Authorities say Peterson claimed to have an AK-47 with three spare magazines and a pound of C4 explosive strapped to his chest.

Police say Peterson admitted to investigators that he had downloaded an app to conceal his phone number, the Kansas City Star reports. He said he knew what C4 was from playing Call of Duty. "This hoax created a huge strain on law enforcement—not to mention the financial loss that Ford suffered from shutting down production," Clay County Sheriff Will Akin said after Peterson's arrest Wednesday. At a court appearance Thursday, Peterson said he was "not guilty because I was forced," KMBC reports. (Read more swatting stories.)

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