It had to be unnerving for the people sitting in on a chat on the ESPN website to suddenly read the thoughts of a man who said he was watching some kids and wouldn't mind killing them. Here they were, in front of a computer screen, unable to tell if it was all a sick joke or if there was a man with a gun somewhere in this country about to murder some innocent children in cold blood.
The arrest of 21-year-old Eric Yee in Valencia, California is one of the best outcomes they could have hoped for. Police say Yee is the man who made the criminal threats on the ESPN site, and -- this is possibly even scarier -- they say they found firearms in his home.
But the children in Yee's neighborhood are fine. There was no tragedy. In fact, tragedy might well have been averted here. And it's all because some guy decided to start spewing his filth on the web.
As imprudent as it might seem to share your twisted criminal plan on a public website, there's a reason police swept in and took Yee into custody. Threats like those he allegedly made against kids aren't often a cry for help. They're an opportunity of sorts to stop tragedies before they even happen.
Look at James Holmes, the alleged shooter in the horrific Aurora, Colorado theater massacre. In the weeks since, we've heard that he spoke out more than once. There's the possibility he called his psychiatrist before the shooting. There is the notebook full of his plans that was mailed to a University of Colorado professor prior to the event.
It is too late to stop James Holmes, but it isn't too late to stop other criminals if we're willing to act.
This guy was just using words, but the people at ESPN who alerted the police to the alleged threats against children did the right thing. They assessed the situation, decided threats of killing kids is more sick than joke, and called the cops. Could it have turned out to be nothing? Sure. But on the other hand, it could have turned out to be something much, much worse.
Do you think the police did the right thing here?
Image via Arbron/Flickr