A YouTube lifestreamer who goes by “Arab Andy” online was arrested last night in Seattle after walking into a University of Washington classroom and playing a text-to-speech bomb threat.
YouTube has since taken the livestream down for violating its terms of service. Mirror uploads are still available to watch on YouTube. “Arab Andy” can be seen walking into a classroom and playing audio of a text-to-speech donation from a viewer. Text-to-speech donations are popular with many streamers, and allows viewers to donate a specific dollar amount to have their message or pre-recorded audio play on stream.
Andy’s stream continues after the college area is evacuated. He’s heard boasting about creating a highlight reel, claiming this will be one of his biggest lifestreams yet. His stream continued even as he was arrested, and text-to-speech comments can be heard mocking the situation.
The University of Washington police department issued a statement on its website following the incident.
“Around 5 p.m., a man walked into a classroom in Savery Hall on the University of Washington campus, filming with a phone in his hand,” the UWPD said. “He asked for everyone’s attention and a pre-recorded message emitted from a speaker on his jacket, announcing something to the effect of ‘The C4 is charged’ and a countdown began. People ran from the room and activated the fire alarm on their way out.”
One of the alleged people standing in the room during the bomb threat prank posted about the experience on Reddit’s Livestreamfail subreddit, claiming:
I was in the room when this occurred. I am in the light blue shirt on the right side and I dive out when people started moving. The context here makes it look less real and intense than it was in person, because he entered the doorway and lingered in a very nervous and creepy way. He looked very uncomfortable at first. When he was asked if he was in the right place by Jerry (the faculty to his right), he said “I think so,” and smiled. Then the TTS went off.
Honestly it seemed like it was probably prank as we were running but you don’t really take chances. His demeanor made it more real too, plus considering he had an oddly large backpack, a phone in hand, and electronics on the front of his body (circular speaker for the TTS). The people who saw him directly were the ones scared shitless for the most part. The people in back and in the kitchen (the doorway through the back right) were much slower to run because it just sounded like a weird announcement.
This isn’t the first time that “Arab Andy” has caused a public disturbance while lifestreaming and using text-to-speech technology. Previous videos demonstrate Andy getting into verbal altercations with passengers on a bus after a text-to-speech donation repeated a racist expletive. Another video shows Andy getting pulled over by a police officer during a street festival after the department received numerous complaints about the messages emanating from his phone.
“Arab Andy” isn’t the first person to use text-to-speech donations in public while lifestreaming and broadcast hateful, offensive or threatening messages. There are compilations of other text-to-speech fails encountered by streamers, including Asian Andy, another popular lifestreamer on YouTube.
The University of Washington Police didn’t specify whether “Arab Andy” was charged with faking a bomb threat. The state of Washington considers fake bomb threats a class B felony, meaning that “Arab Andy” could be charged with committing a crime, and face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison or a $20,000 fine.
“Officers contacted the man on University Way NE shortly thereafter and he was arrested on charges of making a bomb threat,” the police department said in a statement. “The investigation revealed this was a prank and there was no device on him or left in the room. UWPD, in collaboration with Seattle fire and Seattle police, determined there was no ongoing danger.”
Andy’s YouTube channel is still active at this time. Polygon has reached out to both the University of Washington’s police department and YouTube for more details.