Another arrest made in swatting ring linked to 2018 ODU incident

Posted at 2:48 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 14:28:03-04

NORFOLK, Va. - A former leader of the white supremacist group Atomwaffen Division pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges related to his role in a conspiracy that conducted multiple swatting events targeting journalists, Old Dominion University, a historic Virginia church, and a former cabinet official.

John Cameron Denton, 26, of Montgomery, Texas, is allegedly a former leader of the Atomwaffen Division in Texas.

Denton faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison when sentenced on November 17.

According to court documents, from November 2018 to at least April 2019, Denton and 19-year-old John William Kirby Kelly, a former ODU student, worked together to conduct swatting calls. Swatting involves calling in fake emergencies to authorities with the goal of provoking a large law enforcement presence.

Kelly is charged with calling ODU Police in November of 2018, stating he had an AR-15 and had placed several pipe bombs on campus. Denton worked with Kelly and helped make more than 130 other swatting calls; one included a Cabinet official living in Northern Virginia made on January 27, 2019, and another at Alfred Street Baptist Church made on November 3, 2018.

Police say Denton participated in a chat room run by Kelly where they planned swatting calls under the names "Rape" and "Tormentor."

Additionally, Denton allegedly chose at least two other targets to “swat”: The New York City office of ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism, and an investigative journalist that produced materials for ProPublica.

During the investigation, Denton unknowingly met with an undercover law enforcement officer and allegedly told the undercover officer about his role in the swatting conspiracy. Denton allegedly stated that he used a voice changer when he made swatting calls and allegedly admitted that he swatted the offices of ProPublica and the investigative journalist.

He also allegedly stated that it would be good if he was “raided” for the swatting because it would be viewed as a top-tier crime, and he felt that his arrest could benefit Atomwaffen Division.

Investigators say Kelly and Denton kept a long list of targets. The FBI says there is a third member of the swatting ring that is currently cooperating with law enforcement.