Monday, February 15, 2010

Gamer alerts police to prevent U.S. high school shooting

VICTORIA — A conversation a B.C. man had online with a stranger while playing an Xbox game raised some alarm bells, and the man’s quick thinking may have averted a high school shooting in Texas, police say.

The Port Alberni, B.C., resident was playing a video game online Thursday that included a chat feature, allowing participants to talk to each other.

A conversation started with one player who spoke about being a high school senior who was failing academically. The chat then took a more ominous turn as the student detailed plans to take part in a shooting at his school the following day.

“The suspect indicated he was a senior at his high school, had failing grades and mentioned names of students he was targeting, along with plans about how the shooting would proceed,” said Port Alberni RCMP Staff Sgt. Lee Omilusik.

The Port Alberni man started questioning the high school student and the conversation abruptly ended.

But the brief encounter was sufficiently disturbing that the man immediately contacted Port Alberni RCMP who, despite limited information about possible locations, started a cyber investigation.

RCMP contacted Microsoft Law Enforcement Security and their investigators were able to identify the computer through a numeric code and concluded the suspect was in San Antonio, Texas.
The information was passed to San Antonio police department and their investigation led to the arrest of a teenage suspect, who now faces charges.

“This incident demonstrates the power of the electronic world and how different enforcement agencies can quickly work together to protect the citizens they serve, regardless of obstacles such as international barriers,” Omilusik said.

“In this case, the suspect was quickly arrested and no one was hurt thanks to the information received from a concerned citizen.”

It is a reminder to the public to report any suspicious activities to police as their information may save a life, Omilusik said.

Port Alberni is about 200 kilometres northwest of Victoria.

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