A 19-year-old Winnipeg man has been charged after a minor received multiple threats online, including being sent an image of a rifle.
The alleged victim of the threats, who is under the age of 18, started getting threatening messages, photos and videos over multiple social media platforms last Friday.
“One of the photos contained the arrested person carrying what looked like a firearm,” said Winnipeg police spokesperson Const. Tammy Skrabek.
The boy truly believed that not only was he being threatened, but the person was going to carry out the violence, Skrabek added.
“This youth did believe, ‘This person knows where to find me — he knows where I live, he knows where I go to school.’ He knew enough information about the victim that the victim was definitely fearful for his safety,” she said.
The gun in the photo was terrifying for the boy, Skrabek said, adding “it’s almost no different than somebody confronting you with a firearm.”
The threats went on for about two days before the youth told his mother what was going on, Skrabek said. The mother quickly contacted police.
Police investigated and the 19-year-old was arrested on Monday. When officers searched his home, they found an airsoft replica of an M16 assault rifle.
He was charged with uttering threats to cause death or harm, and possession of a weapon.
Police often investigate cyberbullying and cyberthreats but Skrabek said this case was more extreme than officers usually see.
If parents are worried their children are being bullied or threatened online, Skrabek said it’s important to talk to them or make sure they have someone they are comfortable talking with.
Parents should also contact police.
“Cyberthreats are still valid and they are still illegal and things can be done to stop it,” she said.