Youngstown teen pleads guilty to ‘swatting’ charges; similar cases nationwide worry police

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Prosecutors say David Dorbish made phony emergency calls to police in several states

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A teenager from Youngstown is going to have to pay a big price after pleading guilty to sending threatening messages.

Cases like this are becoming more common around the country, causing concern for local police.

Chained at his wrists and ankles, 17-year-old David Dorbish stood before a judge Wednesday afternoon.

Dorbish was indicted as an adult for making fake emergency calls to communities in half a dozen other states, which then caused massive police responses.

He is not accused of trying to prank any local law enforcement, but charges were filed in Youngstown because the calls were allegedly placed in the area.

It’s a practice known as “swatting” because SWAT teams and other units have to be sent in to investigate.

“One callout, average minimum $10,000 just to get the people there, just their base pay,” said Det./Sgt. John Elberty, commander of the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force’s SWAT team.

But even beyond the expense, Elberty said his biggest concern is a bad call that quickly escalates — such a scenario played out two years ago in Wichita, Kansas.

“According to the reports on it, they felt somehow he was going for a gun. He had no weapon on him and they killed him at the door, on his porch,” Elberty said.

Police and prosecutors say many of these swatting cases are committed by suspects trying to impress themselves and their friends with their computer skills.

“People don’t realize what they’re doing and how they’re affecting safety forces and people, citizens minding their own business. You know, ‘Haha this is a joke.’ It’s not funny,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.

But the practice has caused local units to implement new policies, sending a handful of officers to assess a situation where possible first, instead of an entire team of 40 or 50 people.

“If we do go, we call, call the supervisor on scene. We don’t roll the whole team there right off the bat. It’s… assessment goes,” Elberty said.

As for Dorbish, he faces a year behind bars once he’s sentenced at the end of the month and almost $13,000 in restitution.

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