PHOENIX, AZ (August 8, 2013) – Michael David Turley (D.O.B. 3/12/1973) will spend two weeks in jail and two years on supervised probation for devising a dangerous hoax that prompted an emergency response to a suspected terrorist incident. As part of his ruse, Turley had his 16 year-old nephew dress in middle eastern-style apparel and brandish a fake grenade launcher in front of rush hour traffic. Turley also created and posted a video of the event on the internet in which he can be heard saying he wanted to see how long it would take law enforcement to respond. Turley’s sentence, imposed today by the Honorable Jeanne Garcia, also requires him to perform 200 hours of community service and pay all costs associated with the investigation into his actions.
“This defendant foolishly placed a young man’s life in danger and caused a needless deployment of our critical public safety resources,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “If this idiotic stunt proved anything, it was that local law enforcement is prepared to respond to potential threats, and my office is prepared to prosecute criminal hoaxes,” he added.
On July 28, 2012, Michael Turley staged a mock terrorist scenario at the intersection of 33rd Avenue and Bell Road in which his nephew, dressed in middle eastern-style robes and a turban, pointed a realistic looking rocket propelled grenade launcher at passing motorists. After receiving multiple 911 calls, Phoenix Police responded with an air unit and several officers with the department’s Special Assignment Unit. After explaining to the officers that he and his nephew were simply making a movie, Turley, who owns a film production company, was not arrested.
A short while later, Turley posted a video of the incident on YouTube in which he explained that the purpose of the scenario was to test police response time to a potential terrorist threat. He was subsequently arrested and charged with one count of Criminal Hoax and one count of Endangerment.
The State alleged that Turley intended to create the false impression that an act of terrorism was taking place that would reasonably cause an emergency response by a government agency. Additionally, the State alleged that in staging the event, Turley recklessly endangered the life of his nephew with a substantial risk of imminent death. After deliberating for two hours, the jury found him guilty on both counts.