Man Arrested for YouTube Comment Threatening Cops, Claims He Never Intended to Follow Through
The excuse that keeps on excusing.
Tensions have been high around law enforcement lately, to say the least. So when a YouTube commenter left a fairly specific murder threat against retired police officers in a comment thread, Google took it very seriously, despite his claims about its intent.
Under the username “Vets Hunting Cops,” 33-year-old Jeremiah M. Perez left the following comment on a YouTube video, Reuters reported:
SINCE DARREN WILSON our group has killed 6 retired sheriffs and cops … because of this event we will hunt two more in colorado this week … for every innocent citizen that cops kill WE, VETERANS WILL KILL RETIRED HELPLESS COPS.
COPS ARE THE REAL ENEMIES OF FREEDOM LOVING AMERICANS and TIME TO STRIKE BACK IN ALL OUT WAR IS NOW.
A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado said that Google “urgently” alerted the FBI, and Perez was arrested uneventfully at his home in Colorado Springs. They determined that the threat was deliberately left to make people afraid and not to be followed through, according to the U.S. Attorney statement:
At that time they determined that he knew that law enforcement officers would see the post and his intent was for them to be fearful after reading it. He was then arrested.
But despite his intentions, Perez still faces as much as five years in federal prison if he’s convicted.
Let this be a clear message, folks: online threats are serious whether they’re meant to be or not. We talk a lot about this kind of thing, and this incident is simply a very visible example with its mention of Ferguson officer Darren Wilson and clear connection to the recent killing of two police officers in New York.
But threats like these against regular citizens happen every day online, and there’s a struggle in convincing some people that they’re not harmless “jokes.” My father was a police officer who had to retire just over ten years ago when he lost his eyesight. This comment chilled me to the bone, but it also made me think of the people out there on the Internet who have to face comments like this about themselves or loved ones on a regular basis. That’s not a world I want to live in, and it’s not something that any of us should find acceptable.
The Internet is a vast place, and due to its anonymity, you have no way of knowing if the person hurling threats your way is serious or not. But that anonymity isn’t an excuse. FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle told Reuters, “The perceived anonymity of the Internet will not serve as a shield for espousing violence.”
And it shouldn’t, no matter at whom that violence is aimed.
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