A picture of assault weapons laying on the trunk of a car, shared on Facebook with an oblique message about going to the Pokémon World Championships in Boston, was enough for police to detain and ultimately arrest two men on firearms charges there.
"What we can read is what they were saying and the actions that they took, bringing the weapons they were showing online as a threat," Boston police superintendent Paul A. Fitzgerald told reporters yesterday.
James Stumbo (left), 27 and Kevin Norton (right), 18, both of Iowa, were detained on Thursday after security for the Pokémon championships noticed the threatening Facebook post and reported it to local law enforcement. Police had to wait for a judge to approve a search warrant, which they executed on Friday, to find the guns and a lot of ammunition in their vehicle.
Fitzgerald said authorities believed the two were capable of pulling off a mass shooting. Boston P.D. worked the case with a joint terrorism task force that includes federal authorities.
The Suffolk County, Massachusetts district attorney's office went into greater detail about the alleged threat in a news release. Stumbo allegedly posted the photo to a public Facebook page called "Mayhem Pokemon Crew," naming Norton in it. Police found an AR-15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge Remington shotgun and ammunition in the vehicle the suspects drove from Iowa to Boston, then arrested the two at a nearby hotel.
Prosecutors said Stumbo threatened "Columbine part 2," "another Boston massacre," and the 2013 Boston marathon bombing in a Facebook chatroom conversation among several individuals, threatening one of its participants with "my AR-15." Norton, prosecutors said, threatened to shoot another person at the event on Friday after he was banned from a chatroom.
The Boston Globe noted that Stumbo appears to have been a winner in state-level Pokémon tournaments earlier this year. He and Norton face a variety of firearms charges, though none yet for making threats.
The 2015 Pokémon World Championships concluded on Sunday without disruption, crowning champions in six different divisions.