LOS ANGELES — A rapper could face criminal charges after a tweet from his account incited a telephone flash mob that overwhelmed the emergency phone system at one of busiest stations of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department, the agency said Saturday.
The sheriff’s department alleges The Game tweeted the Compton station’s phone number Friday and told his 580,000 followers to call the number if they wanted an internship.
Phones at the southeast Los Angeles County station started ringing at 5:23 p.m. Friday, and the lines were jammed by hundreds of calls for more than two hours, prompting authorities to bring in additional help. Many callers hung up as soon as someone answered, while others asked deputies about a music internship.
During that time people with legitimate issues that included a missing person, spousal abuse and two robberies were also trying to call in, department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said that when authorities finally figured out what had happened, he sent two tweets to the rapper asking him to take down the number. Instead, Parker said, The Game posted that his account had been hacked and also tweeted that it was an accident.
“Yall can track a tweet down but cant solve murders!” the tweet said. “Dat was an accident but maybe now yall can actually do yall job !!!!”
A call and email to The Game’s publicist, Greg Miller at Big Hassle Media, was not immediately returned.
The rapper finally took down the number around 11 p.m. Friday after a third request from Parker, who took particular issue with the accusation that deputies are not doing their job.
“Under the LA county sheriffs we’ve reduce homicides in Compton by over 50 percent in recent years and crime is down in Compton, but it’s particularly helpful when the public can contact us,” Parker said Saturday in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “This incident was the social media equivalent of going into a crowded movie theater and shouting ‘Fire!’”
Investigators will document what happened, how many calls flooded the station, the rapper’s tweets and other information, and will turn it over to the district attorney’s office next week, Parker said. The rapper could face charges of maliciously disrupting or impeding communications over a public safety radio frequency, obstruction of justice or other charges related to delaying a peace officer from doing their job.
“Public safety was absolutely compromised,” Parker said. “We were delayed in responding to calls.”
The Game is a California-based rapper whose real name is Charles Louboutin, the sheriff’s office said in a release.
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His 2005 debut album, “The Documentary,” entered the charts at the top and sold 586,000 units in the first week, according to his website. The rapper, who grew up in Compton, has collaborated with famed rappers including Dr. Dre, Kanye West and 50 Cent.