Social Media: Outlet for Threats?

Popular blogging sites and social networks such as Facebook may now be portals for threats, according to a CNN article.

One man allegedly used social networking sites to threaten witnesses to keep silent after the recent murder of a young football player – Jasper Howard – at the University of Connecticut.

Christopher Mutchler – also a student at the university – wrote blogs online and allegedly made threats in attempt to keep witnesses from coming forward with any information about the murder.

On one site he allegedly posted, “”STOP the snitching and post the names of anyone you know who gave information to the cops.”

Howard and another football player – Brian Parker – were allegedly murdered by a small group of young men after a student dance at the campus. They were involved in an altercation with the men, and both student athletes were stabbed during the incident.

Parker suffered minor injuries during the fight. Howard was stabbed in the abdomen and taken to the hospital in Hartford. He later died as a result of the stab wounds.

Mutchler allegedly posted two threats online, one on the ESPNU sports network blog that posted the story of Howard’s murder. The second posting appeared on Facebook; a social group was started for the football player labeled “RIP Jasper Howard” and over 13,000 people joined to show support for family and friends.

CNN reported that Mutchler was charged with five counts including hindering prosecution, acts of terrorism and a few other misdemeanors. He has been released on a $15,000 bond.

The police stated Mutchler allegedly wrote, “Two separate internet postings that were threatening in nature and appeared to be directed at witnesses that either had or would provide information in conjunction with the investigation.”

The police stated that even though they had reason to believe that the postings were meant stop witnesses from coming forward, they now believe the postings are “empty threats.” Police continue to encourage anyone with information about the murder to come forward, CNN reports.

The men involved in the fight have been identified as 21-year- old John Lomax, 20-year-old Hakim Muhammad, and 21-year-old Jamal Todd. All young men are facing some serious criminal charges.

Lomax has been charged with murder and conspiracy to commit assault; Muhammad faces conspiracy to commit assault; and Todd faces charges of falsely reporting an incident and a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment. Todd pulled the fire alarm, causing the entire student body to leave the dance.

Police have not linked Mutchler with the other men involved at this point. The university is looking into the situation to determine if he violated any codes of conduct, and will then decide on the best action to take.

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