A deranged cyber-stalker who harassed a Bronx high school student he met on a gaming platform has been arrested, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
The suspect hacked into the girl’s online accounts, sent SWAT teams to her house and even broke into her school’s grading system, authorities said.
Back in 2014, Tristan Rowe, who refers to himself as Angus, first met the victim while they were playing an online video game. But after about four months, the victim stopped playing and told Rowe she didn’t want to speak to him anymore, a criminal complaint alleges.
That’s when Rowe — of Smyrna, Tennessee — began a campaign of cyber harassment that lasted nearly six years and included the victim, her dad, her sister, her ex-boyfriend, her ex’s sister and her mom’s boyfriend, court papers say.
Angus started calling the victim persistently and receiving text messages that were “obsessive,” “lewd” and “threatening,” investigators allege.
“When I get u im putting u in the back of the trunk bitch ass n—a ill cut u from f–king ear to ear and ill pull ur tongue through the slit Columbian style bitch,” one text, allegedly sent by Rowe, reads.
He also allegedly texted her a large kitchen knife, a text asking if he should sign the victim up for “an escorts website,” and a message depicting a detailed map showing the route from Tennessee to the victim’s Bronx home, prosecutors allege.
He allegedly sent a picture of an adult penis to the sister of the victim’s ex-partner, prosecutors said.
Rowe appeared to get a sick pleasure from the harassment and even admitted he was the victim’s cyberstalker in a text he sent her, the papers say.
“Angus(noun): [Victim-2]’s cyberstalker,” one text read as if Rowe’s code name was a definition from a dictionary.
Simultaneously, Rowe was hacking into the victim’s Facebook, email and Snapchat accounts and would send messages to the victim’s friends with demands that they put Rowe in touch with her.
Rowe also allegedly sent emails to the victim’s professors once she was in college that offered to sell nude photos of the victim and her mom’s boyfriend, the complaint states.
He also allegedly called in over 100 fake 911 calls to the victim’s address and subjected them to “multiple ‘swatting’ incidents” — a harassment tactic abusers use to send SWAT teams or emergency units to a person’s home based on a fake threat — court papers say.
“On multiple occasions, police officers responded to her home in the Bronx, New York — often with guns drawn,” the complaint reads.
“She was once awoken by police officers outside her bedroom door, and found the ‘swatting’ incidents to be extremely frightening and upsetting.”
The victim and her dad received texts from Rowe that said “if you do not speak up you will be shot and killed by a swat team,” “I do not play games with swatting,” “next swatting victim will be courtesy of me” and “they killed a man in Witchita [sic] Kansas over some swatting.”
Rowe was seemingly referring to an Ohio gamer, Tyler R. Barriss, who staged a swatting incident that left a 28-year-old innocent man named Andrew Finch dead.
The stalker then targeted the victim’s high school by calling in “multiple threats,” including a bomb threat and an active shooter threat from a person who identified themselves as “Angus” and demanded they be put in contact with the victim, the complaint states.
Rowe also allegedly breached the high school’s grading system and was caught with homework assignments on his computer that had the victim’s name on it, prosecutors allege.
Investigators tracked Rowe down using IP addresses from his hacks and found him in Smyrna where he admitted to much of the harassment and was subsequently arrested.
While reviewing computers seized from his home, police determined he’d also hacked into a police department website, the website for a Bronx hospital and a state law enforcement website.
Prosecutors didn’t immediately return a request for comment seeking Rowe’s age, which was left out their release and their criminal complaint.