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WASHINGTON - Tyler Raj Barriss, 25, of Los Angeles, Calif., has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on two counts of making hoax bomb threats, for a threat that caused an evacuation of a high-profile Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hearing, and another threat eight days later that that targeted FBI headquarters.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Kris Cline, Principal Deputy Director of the Federal Protective Service.
Barriss currently is detained in Wichita, Kansas, where he faces state and federal charges for his role in a Dec. 28, 2017, “swatting” that led to a fatal shooting by law enforcement. “Swatting” refers to a hoax intended to cause law enforcement to respond to a particular location. The federal indictment in Kansas was unsealed on May 23, 2018, and charges Barriss with multiple counts stemming from hoax calls that ultimately led to the death of Andrew Finch.
The District of Columbia case involves two events that took place earlier in December 2017. Barriss is charged in each of those events with one count of threatening and conveying false information concerning use of an explosive. The indictment was unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
On Dec. 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission was holding a widely-reported hearing. According to the government’s evidence, Barriss made threats by phone that there were explosives in the building that were set to detonate. The threats led to the FCC Chairman halting the meeting, and the building was evacuated. Further investigation revealed that no explosives were in the building, and the bomb threats were a hoax.
Also, according to the government’s evidence, on Dec. 22, 2017, after work hours, Barriss made similar threats by phone regarding explosives placed inside and outside of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the headquarters of the FBI. Law enforcement responding to the threat ultimately determined that Barriss’s threats were again a hoax.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
Each of the federal charges in the District of Columbia carries statutory maximums of 10 years in prison and potential fines.
The District of Columbia case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Federal Protective Service. The case is being investigated and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Luke M. Jones and Mervin A. Bourne, Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.