Things could have taken a turn for the worse if it wasn’t for one concerned social media user and an NFL athlete.
In late March, New England Patriots player Julian Edelman was visiting a friend in Texas when he posted a photo to Instagram. All seemed normal until an unnamed user commented under his photo saying, “I can’t help but notice in the comments section there is a kid saying he’s going to shoot up a school, can everybody alert the authorities please????”
That same user even sent Julian a separate direct message saying, “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.”
Julian told The New York Times that his mind immediately went to the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida: “With the emotions of what happened, and I have a kid now, I said, holy Toledo, what is going on?”
Edelman had his Boston-based assistant, Shannen Moen, search through the hundreds of comments under Julian’s March 25 post to find the threatening message. She found it and the unidentified Instagram user wrote, “I’m going to shoot my school up watch the news.”
Moen then alerted the Boston police and they traced the commenter’s IP address to Port Huron, Michigan. Authorities in Macomb County were notified and they went to the home of the 14-year-old boy who confessed to the threatening message. At his place, they found two rifles that belonged to his mother and the teen was apprehended for making a false report of a threat of terrorism.
According to CNN, threats like this are not uncommon since the Parkland shooting in February. Before, In Macomb County, a normal school year would have 17 charges of false threats or threats of terrorism, according to Prosecuting Attorney Eric Smith. Now, this year, the number has risen to 51.
Edelman thanked the unidentified person who alerted him about the disturbing message. “This individual’s thoughtfulness and awareness may have helped avert another tragedy,” his reps said in a statement.
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