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Central Ohio lawmaker targeted by 'swatting' call suspects action was politically motivated

Ohio State Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) speaks on the floor of the Ohio Senate.
Ohio Senate
Ohio State Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) speaks on the floor of the Ohio Senate.

State Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) was one of three Ohio lawmakers targeted by "swatting" calls on Tuesday.

Police were told of an ongoing emergency situation at Brenner's home address and another property also owned by Brenner.

Brenner said Tuesday afternoon, police were informed of a dangerous domestic situation and a possible shooting at a rental home he currently owns and previously lived in. Police showed up to the property to check to see if it was safe. Later that evening, police received a similar call telling them to go to Brenner's current home address.

Brenner said when police showed up, they had already started to figure out what was going on.

"(Police) showed up and, you know, were very cordial. (They) understood and saw that everything was fine and figured it was another swatting incident," Brenner said.

Brenner was the third lawmaker to deal with a swatting call that day. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and State Representative Kevin Miller of Newark were also "swatted" on Tuesday.

Brenner said he and his family are doing fine after the incident. The guest that was staying in his rental property was not there at the time and his wife was present at his current home but is doing okay.

Brenner said he suspects he and Smith may have been targeted, because of legislation they helped pass that increased penalties for people suspected of "swatting." He said former state Rep. Rick Carfagna was also a victim of a swatting call on Tuesday.

"If somebody is going to use this as a weapon against the legislators or people who are trying to pass laws, including like the attorney general or somebody else and and use this as a political weapon, I think that's just as bad as anything else," Brenner said.

The legislation signed into law this year by Gov. Mike DeWine made “swatting” a fourth-degree felony, and if a person is physically harmed during a resulting police response, the situation would be elevated to a second-degree felony.

Brenner said another solution to the issue could be having the incidents addressed at the federal level.

Brenner said cybersecurity plays a key role and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the military have to see what more can be done in overseeing "swatting" calls from foreign countries such as China and Russia.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.