Since the deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, at least 27 people around the country have been arrested for threatening to conduct mass shootings or attacks of their own.
Most recently, police in Volusia County, Florida, arrested a 15-year-old boy for allegedly posting an online threat to shoot up his high school. The FBI forwarded the message, “I Dalton Barnhart vow to bring my fathers M15 to school and kill 7 people at a minimum,” to local police, who located the suspect and read the message aloud to him and his mother, according to WPVI.
Police said the teen, who used a pseudonym in the post, claimed what he wrote was meant to be a joke. Officers were unamused, informing him and his mother that it still constitutes as a felony.
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In a statement issued to CNN, the FBI said they feared the two mass shootings would inspire copycats to “engage in similar acts of violence.” Identifying a possible spike in threats, the news network highlighted at least 27 incidents in states like Florida and Ohio since the August 4 mass shooting in Dayton.
Notably, many of the reported threats referenced attacks on schools and minorities. Suspected Walmart gunman Patrick Crussius allegedly told authorities that he planned to kill as many Hispanics as he could.
Weeks later on August 16, Eric Lin, 35, of Maryland, was arrested in Washington for allegedly making multiple threats on Facebook to kill Hispanics in the Miami, Florida, area. The Department of Justice accused Lin of making the threats between May 30 and August 13.
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Not all of the 27 incidents have involved threats of mass shootings. In at least two instances, suspects have referenced blowing up state or federal agencies.
On August 13, authorities in Arizona arrested Brian Thomas Keck, 35, for calling an army recruiting center in Tempe and threatening to blow it up. According to KTVK, the phone number used to call the center had referenced prior terror attacks which occurred in the U.S. Days later, police in South Dakota announced that they’ve arrested Daniel Nazarchuk, 37, for “threatening to blow up various local and federal governmental entities.”
Authorities who spoke to CBS News said they’re making more arrests for mass shooting or attack threats because citizens are more willing to report it.
“The patterns are fairly clear,” John Miller, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, told CBS.
“If people learn what they are… and have the ability to step forward and say, ‘I’m going to report this,’ then we’re going to have fewer of these.”
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[Featured image: Richard D. Clayton/Orange County Jail; Wayne Lee Padgett/Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]