Two Utah teenagers were in custody on multiple charges Monday after a concerned mother alerted authorities that they had threatened on Facebook to kill her son near his school, police told NBC News.
Salt Lake City police Detective Greg Wilking said the threat appeared to be gang-related. He wouldn't identify the suspects because they are juveniles, but he said they faced multiple gun and marijuana possession charges and possible charges of making threats.
The alleged target's mother was reading her son's Facebook account Friday when she ran across the threats, Wilking said. She told police detectives serving as school resource officers at West High School, who found the boys, ages 16 and 17, in a car in a nearby parking lot where they were waiting to confront the boy, he said.
They also found a gun and a loaded magazine, marijuana, a large amount of cash and what a police incident report described as "a large bong." Further investigation showed that one or both of the teenagers had posted a picture of the gun on Instagram.
There was no indication that the school itself was in danger, Wilking said, but the incident highlighted the importance of parents knowing what their kids are doing on social media.
"Our message is, this is a parent paying attention to their child's social media and paying attention to what they're seeing on their social media sites," he told NBC News. "If this parent hadn't been paying attention, we could have had a shooting."
First published April 7 2014, 4:34 PM
M. Alex Johnson
M. Alex Johnson is a senior writer for NBC News covering general news, with an emphasis on explanatory journalism and data analysis. Johnson joined NBCNews.com in January 2000 from The Washington Post, where he was news editor of washingtonpost.com and night city editor of the print edition. He has also worked at the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau, Congressional Quarterly and The Charlotte Observer, where he was part of a team that won the 1987 Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service. He is a member of the National Press Club, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Online News Association.
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