Police called the threat “real and serious,” and the cache of weapons found in the car of the pair arrested shows it. The plotters published threats of the massacre over social media, and attendees alerted authorities. James Austin Stumbo, 27, and Kevin Norton, 18 have been in jail since Saturday, and now face weapons charges at the very least:
Boston police arrested James Austin Stumbo, 27, and Kevin Norton, 18, on Saturday “because of threats of violence made over social media.” When police searched Stumbo and Norton’s vehicle parked in a garage several blocks from the Pokemon event, they found a shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle, a hunting knife, and 250 rounds of ammunition.
Stumbo and Norton are charged with several firearm charges including unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.
“The BPD detectives did a great job in the stop and prevention of a potential tragedy,” said Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald, commander of the police department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Analysis.
Just how serious was this? The Daily Beast (linked above) captures some of the Facebook chatter, including a remark about “killing the competition, while the Washington Post gives a little more context to the remarks. A July 30th Facebook post said, ““Boys an girls this is going to be a guns and stripper weekend!!!” after Stumbo won $1000 at an earlier Pokemon event, which he apparently meant as an explanation for where the money would go.
The two Iowans may not have been serious, but the police checked it out anyway, and that’s when they found more than just Pokemon memorabilia in the car:
“Hynes Convention security called the Boston Police Department, which radioed two officers to look into Norton and Stumbo,” according to the Daily Beast. “The ‘officers were informed’ of Stumbo’s post on Facebook, according to the police report. When Stumbo was questioned, he claimed the post was taken out of context. However, Norton told police where their car was parked and that it had weapons inside. Norton said the shotgun was his but the AR-15 was Stumbo’s. Neither man produced a permit to carry firearms.”
Cops seized the vehicle, while Norton and Stumbo were released pending a search warrant, according to BPD.
When a judge approved the warrant the next day, police popped the car’s trunk to allegedly find a 12-gauge Remington shotgun, a DPMS model AR-15 rifle, several hundred rounds of ammunition and a hunting knife. They then issued an arrest warrant for the Pokemon players.
No doubt that lawyers for the duo will argue that the Facebook chatter was just ill-advised humor, but that might be a little easier to believe had they not brought “hundreds of rounds of ammunition” to … a Pokemon tournament. Since they lacked a proper permit to carry weapons in Massachusetts, that would be another indication that they had some intent to do harm. It’s one thing to make that assumption, though, and another entirely to prove it past a reasonable doubt.
The arraignment today will probably focus on the weapons charges rather than accusations of a terrorist plot. Prosecutors can always add charges, and it’s doubtful that a judge will set a low bail in this case anyway. If these two men didn’t plan on a massacre, then they really picked the wrong city as a venue for showing off their armory, considering the events of the past two years in Boston. And if they did plan a massacre, then Boston has shown that they know how to deal with maladjusted terrorists.