An 18-year-old Thurston County man who shared a link on Twitter causing people to mistakenly call Thurston 911 Communications on Tuesday evening is facing a felony charge.
Gavin C. Hasler appeared before Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon on Thursday, and the judge found probable cause for one charge: electronic data service interference, a felony. Hasler was to be released from the Thurston County jail on his personal recognizance.
“This does sound like a mundane charge, but certainly the facts of this case are concerning based on the fact that he shut shown 911 for approximately 15 minutes,” said Deputy Prosecutor Heather Stone.
Court documents give the following account:
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On Tuesday evening, Thurston County’s emergency dispatch system, Thurston 911 Communications, was inundated with calls, causing the phones to lock up and impairing the agency’s work for about 15 minutes. Mason County’s dispatch center also received several incoming calls.
The first call to Thurston County came in at about 9:40 p.m. from Hasler. He told dispatchers that he had called by mistake.
The agency then received 56 calls in about an hour.
Dispatchers learned that the incoming calls were originating from people clicking links on Twitter. The Twitter post read, “I CAN’T BELIEVE PEOPLE ARE THIS STUPID.” By the time a Lacey police officer looked at the Twitter account, the link had been deleted. However, the account featured a photo of a man with brown hair, taking a photo in a bathroom mirror with a phone in a red phone case.
Dispatchers found a Facebook account for the same man, Hasler. The photo on the Facebook page depicted the same man, same phone case, and the same bathroom.
Hasler told police that a friend had given him the link, and when he clicked it, his phone automatically called 911. He said he then posted the link on Twitter, but the situation got out of control. He said he tried to delete the link, but he couldn’t because too many people were clicking on it.
Hasler told police that it was a prank that went wrong.