Thanks to a quick response from an NFL player to a threatening comment left on his Instagram page — and a response from authorities who took the report seriously — a potential school shooter has been stopped.
Julian Edelman, a wide receiver with the New England Patriots, is a frequent poster on his Instagram account, where he has over 1.7 million followers. According to the New York Times, Edelman got a message from one of those followers in late March, “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’s thoughts immediately went to the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where the shooter had displayed a long list of warning signs but the authorities failed to intervene in any way that would have deprived him of his guns.
“With the emotions of what happened, and I have a kid now, I said, holy Toledo, what is going on?” Edelman told reporters. He called his assistant, Shannen Moen, and she scrolled through hundreds of comments until she found a troubling one that said, “I’m going to shoot my school up watch the news.”
Moen called 911 and the police quickly responded, assigning detectives to meet come to her house and collect the necessary information to make an emergency records request about the person who posted the comment. The commenter was identified as a 14-year-old boy in Port Huron, Michigan.
Police in Michigan drove to the boy’s home, and he admitted to posting the threatening comment, targeting his middle school. Captain Joseph Platzer of the Port Huron Police Department told reporters that they also found two rifles at the residence that belonged to his mother.
The boy was arrested and charged with making a false report of a threat of terrorism. This is a felony punishable up to four years in jail. He remains in custody at a local juvenile detention center.
Moen and Edelman both praised the quick work of the Boston and Michigan police. Edelman is reaching out to his fan, an Instagram user with the handle jessey13, who sent him the direct message alerting him to the threat.
“Thankfully, this kid said something,” said Edelman. “We’re going to send him something, a care package, just for his work. He’s the real hero.”
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.