Greg Searle, 35, has 400 friends on Facebook. That seems like an average number for the common Facebook user these days. But Searle was a little less an than your average Facebooker after he promoted to all his friends that he was going to murder people on Facebook, sending a hoard of police officers to his apartment for an eight-hour armed standoff, reports BBC.
The events took place last August in Chepstow, South Wales when Searle began acting strange on the social network. After Searle’s mother became suspicious, she called the police on her son which resulted in Searle pointing a gun at officers from his upstairs window. The four officers that arrived decided the situation was getting out of hand, so they called an armed response team complete with bulletproof vests to tackle the challenge.
During this time, Searle continued to taunt the situation on Facebook, posting status updates such as “I give you live murder on Facebook. Bet you sick freaks can’t wait for me to make my move so you can watch,” and “I’ve left my grenade somewhere, I think it’s still in the car.”
When the slew of officers could not negotiate with Searle, the ridiculous debacle ended with police storming into the apartment only to find that Searle’s gun was fake. Searle was arrested immediately.
Searle’s attorney, Karl Williams, defended that his client was suffering intense psychological issues and the incident was an extreme cry for help. “He has been on mood-altering medication since his arrest and there have been no further problems but he may need more treatment,” he told the court.
Despite the plea, the judge ordered Searle to two years of jail for pleading guilty to affray and admitted to threatening police officers with an imitation firearm.
It should go without saying that any form of in-person threatening action that could result in jail would probably get the same treatment if you chose to do it online. Though this incident took place in the United Kingdom, Americans should not feel compelled to continue trolling on the web. A recent bill in Arizona addressing updates to our Internet age is currently awaiting the state governor’s approval.
“It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use a ANY ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DEVICE and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person,” the bill read.
Worse, if a person purposely use digital means to stalk, they could be convicted of Class 3 felony will can result in a minimum sentence of 2.5 years in jail and a maximum of 25 years, depending on your criminal past.
So let it be a lesson to all the social media trolls you may know: Cut it out or you might end up behind bars.