Julian Edelman May Have Prevented A School Shooting After Being Alerted To A Threat In His Instagram Comments And Taking Action
NYTimes- The New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was in Texas visiting his former teammate Danny Amendola late last month when he received a direct message on his Instagram account: “Dude, there is a kid in your comment section says he s going to shoot up a school, i think you should alert the authority.”
Edelman instantly thought of the mass shooting about five weeks earlier in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed. “With the emotions of what happened, and I have a kid now, I said, holy Toledo, what is going on?” Edelman said in an interview this week.
He quickly notified his assistant in Boston, Shannen Moen, who looked through the hundreds of comments that followed Edelman’s most recent post on Instagram. She found the alarming message: “I’m going to shoot my school up watch the news.”
Moen called 911, and a police officer soon arrived. The officer saw the screen shot, then called her chief, who sent two detectives to Moen’s house. The detectives collected some information about the person who posted the threat. They then returned to their office, where they made an emergency records request for account information, which allowed them to determine the sender’s email and IP address, which was traced to Port Huron, Mich.
The detectives called police in Michigan, who immediately drove to the house where the threatening message originated. When the police arrived at the address, they found a 14-year-old boy, who, they said, admitted to posting the threat. They also found two rifles that belonged to his mother, according to Capt. Joseph Platzer of the Port Huron Police Department.
Platzer said the boy’s threat was aimed at the middle school that he attends in a nearby township. The boy was taken to a juvenile-detention center, where he remains. He was charged with making a false report of a threat of terrorism, a felony that is punishable by up to four years in jail.
Moen said Edelman wanted to thank the person who sent him the direct message for his vigilance. (Someone with the Instagram handle jesseyi3.) Moen has reached out to that person, but so far has received no response.
“Thankfully, this kid said something,” said Edelman, who has played in three Super Bowls with the Patriots in his eight-year N.F.L. career. “We’re going to send him something, a care package, just for his work. He’s the real hero.”
I really, really don't want to play the pessimist here. After all, it's objectively awesome that some random follower had the wherewithal to take heed to one of the hundreds of thousands of thoughtless threats unleashed on the internet on a daily basis and alerted a professional athlete who, in turn, took time out of his undoubtedly busy schedule to act upon what very easily could have been a shameless troll. To blame Julian Edelman or the person who direct messaged him if either of them had treated that comment like the work of an anonymous attention-seeker would be hypocritical to say the least. Each and every day our eyes pass over suspicious stupidity on the on the inter-webs, and it's almost always met with the nothing more than a visit to another URL. Credit to both of the men for being vigilant enough to care, and potentially saving some lives in the process.
That being said, isn't at least mildly concerning how many hoops needed to be jumped through before a person who had access to the means (multiple rifles) of a harrowing end that he foretold publicly was taken into custody? I'm not smart enough to know how, but - considering it was a six step process to confront the sick son of bitch that flat out he was going to murder his classmates on social media - we have got to find a better of way of policing the internet. As proactive and productive as this citizen-led arrest was, it was still wildly inefficient in a way that makes me fearful for the safety of society in the future. The one positive about moronic misuses of technology should be that they make the apprehension of lunatics more timely, but if that kid truly wanted to shoot up his school then no amount of alertness would have been anything more than too little, too late. The fact that "see something, say something" actually worked gives me a sliver of hope, but considering all the things that had to go right for it to do so makes me wonder if it's still a predominantly hopeless endeavor.