Twitter hoax leads to felony charges for Thurston County teen

LACEY, Wash. – An 18-year-old Thurston County man is facing felony charges after police say he posted a link to Twitter that hijacked phones and caused them to repeatedly dial 911.

Thurston 911 Communications was bombarded on Tuesday night after Twitter followers of Gavin Hasler clicked a link provided by the teen.

Court documents state the 911 center’s “ability to conduct their job was impaired for about 15 minutes.” The hoax required dispatch to restart all their phones to get them to work correctly after more than 50 hang-up calls came into 911 during a 15-minute window.

“When they clicked on it, their phone immediately began calling 911 and they couldn’t stop it. Many described the first thing they felt as panic,” said Sgt. T. Brimmer with Lacey Police. The “title on the link is ‘People Do Stupid Things,’” he said.

Court documents state Hasler told police it was “a prank gone wrong.” “Hasler advised he knew the situation had gotten out of control and attempted to delete the link, but stated he was not able to delete the link as too many people were clicking on it.”

“A young kid probably thought this was funny, it was obviously not,” said Deputy Director Wendy Hill with Thurston 9-1-1 Communications. “It could’ve impacted someone with a real emergency and that should be the message out there, is that 9-1-1 isn’t a joke, it should be taken seriously and treated as such.”

Hasler is scheduled to appear in court in November; he is facing a felony charge of Electronic Data Service Interference.