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, Florida, 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 screenshot, 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, Michigan.
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 centre, 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.
“Anytime someone makes a threat to shoot up a school or building, we take it very seriously,” Platzer said.
The case was sent to the local district attorney’s office and the boy has had one court hearing.
Back in Boston, Moen said she is relieved a potential crisis was averted. “When I told Julian, he was in shock,” Moen said. “We’re very lucky the Boston cops were all over it, very lucky the Michigan cops were all over it.”
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 NFL career. “We’re going to send him something, a care package, just for his work. He’s the real hero.”