Heroes of the Storm player arrested for making terrorism threats in chat

    
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You say that like it's a bad thing.

On today’s episode of Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes, a Heroes of the Storm player has been arrested and charged with making terrorist threats in the in-game chat of Blizzard’s somewhat-ailing MOBA. The culprit, 26-year-old Michael Mickowski of Las Vegas, Nevada, was arrested earlier this month after making a series of threatening remarks in HotS’s chat, which were reported by players and subsequently relayed by Blizzard to the Las Vegas police, who were able to track down Mickowski using the IP address from which he had been playing the game.

According to the arrest report, the messages that led Blizzard to report Mickowski included, “Someday, when I have enough money to buy a gun and some ammunition I will shoot up a school where I live,” and “Imagine if I decided to go to an elementary school too. Instead of a high school or middle school imagine. I’ll buy a gun and shoot everyone I can. I’ll stream it on twitch.”

Although Deputy Public Defender Belinda Harris argued on Mickowski’s behalf that his remarks were “kind of the nature of the video game,” Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson quite rightly noted that “If you’re in a game with a bunch of people who play these games on the regular, and they’re reporting it, then obviously it rises to a level far beyond what is normal for the game play.” As of the most recent reports, Mickowski remains in custody with bail set at $150,000 and with a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 25th.

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MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

That’s messed up. But so is a lot of society lately…

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Sythalin

I know I’m going to get flamed hard, and I accept it as the results of bringing logic to the table, but when did it become the norm to arrest people for a crime BEFORE they may or may not actually commit?

Yes, what the twat said is clearly not acceptable, and should have been hardware banned from the game entirely, but arrested and pending prosecution as a terrorist? I guess the US is more paranoid than I originally thought.

Should the authorities been contacted and sent to see if there is a real threat? Definitely. Did they find anything actually signifing that the person is actually planning to shoot a school? No, they didn’t. They just found another dumbass shooting his mouth off on the internet, like literally millions of others do. At most give the dumbass a citation for wasting the police time and resources.

I mean hell, someone who made the comment “Can someone shoot the fool between the eyes?” in reference to the president got a visit from secret service to see if it was an actual, credible threat. Nothing happened because no threat was actually made and no evidence was found to warrant an arrest.

It’s a sad day when people can now be arrested and prosecuted for crimes just for mentioning “imagine if I did this” as of the crime had actually been committed.

Imagine if I go I to the next room and I beat my kids with my belt. Or imagine if I strangle my wife. Hell, imagine if I went down the block and robbed the gas station.

Now, if you support this dumbass getting getting prosecuted and imprisoned as a terrorist for “what if” , I should expect a police visit sometime this week as you hold to your own convictions and contact the authorities for my statements I just made.

Once again, I do not support the dipshit’s comments, but the knee-jerk reaction is on the extreme side.

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Bannex

You seem to miss the part where he said “I will. ” He is a 26 year old man saying he will shoot up a school. The imagine part came afterwards where he was talking about what type of school he was going to “shoot up”.

I think in a general sense if an adult says he’s going to do something that is reason enough to assume he’s going to do it or is planning to do it.

If a person comes to the ER saying they’re going to kill themselves, by law we have to treat it more or less like they plan on killing themselves.

The United states has had a pretty bloody and tragic recent history regarding school shootings. I personally would much rather have this fucking moron treated as if he was planning an attack instead of him being brushed off as another troll.

Judges and the criminal justice system are there for a reason. At the very least, this goes on his record and prevents the dipshit from ever being able to legally obtain a gun.

Would you really be maintaining this stance if the authorities decided to blow off the case and he goes on to mow a dozen 1st and 2nd graders?

Look whether you like it or not, you WILL and SHOULD be held accountable for what you say. The internet doesn’t forget, threats of mass murder isn’t some free speech shit. Throw the book at this dumb worthless pile of shit.

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Sythalin

No, I don’t believe the statements should be “brushed off”; I already addressed that in the 3rd paragraph. As for “would I really maintain this stance…”, obviously not, but you’re proposing a different situation in terms of cause/reaction.

If some dipshit goes though and shoots up a school, I fully support that society completely bypasses the pointless trial and goes straight to execution. On the spot. Without question. However, just saying “I will do this crime” and being arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned as if that is equivalent of actually performing the crime is extreme.

As I said, I fully support that the comments were reported and investigated, the dipshit will most likely be put on a “no sale” list for obtaining a firearms (as you said), and added to the governments watch list. However, if he does end up being imprisoned for just stating “I will …” while never “have done”, then US jails are going to start filling up even faster than they already are with “pre-crimes”.

To understand this specific viewpoint, take a day or two to just listen to how people talk nowadays (whether online or out in the world) and see how often people make a statement about performing a crime that may/or may not actually occur, yet they are not arrested as if they had performed the crime.

Some examples:
“I’d totally kill for some of those nachos.” -> arrest them for committing murder
“If I had a foolproof plan, I’d rob a bank.” -> arrest them for robbing a bank
“Someday I will try smoking pot.” -> arrest them for narcotic use (obviously applicable where recreation use is not legal)
“Given the chance, I would bend that girl over and…..” -> arrest them for rape

Once again, for the third time to try and solidify the point since I know at this point some people still may not get it:

I do not support his statement. I believe he should have been investigated and appropriate consequences be given. However, I do not believe being prosecuted and imprisoned while not actually committing the crime itself, or any supporting evidence beyond “I will do this” is found, qualifies as “appropriate”.

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Mau S

wtf with deputy public defender? I have played HOTS for more than two years and no, it’s not normal to wite that ib chat

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Pingly

It’s their job as a Public Defender. They have to make sure their client is getting every defense they can, whether they think he’s a slimeball or not.

They try anything they legally can and it’s the judges call if it’s reasonable or not.

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Mau S

That makes sense. Ty for the answer!

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Sorenthaz

Good. Anonymity can cause people to say a lot of stupid crap because they think they can get away with it, but there’s a fine line that shouldn’t be crossed, and he’s paying the consequences for it despite thinking he might’ve been safe behind a virtual name.

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Utakata

No. I think being awful can cause people to say a lot of stupid crap because they think they can get away with it. Just saying.

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Akagi

Wait, I thought HoTA had disabled chat and only allowed using something like pre-installed radio messages like in Counter-Strike to keep the game toxic free.

I never played it in my life.

On the note of the discussion, sure you get angry, we all get angry sometimes, I do get ancgry too and (regretably) insult people, but to go and make threats like that, that’s either being very stupid or having some form of mental retardation or insanity. If you think that saying you should shoot up a school with kids will make you get your point across or make you feel better, then there is something really wrong with you.

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Bannex

Well this guy is one stupid motherfucker. Im sure we’ll be seeing more of him later unfortunately.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

So what’s the dividing line between terrorist threats and NOT terrorist threats? Because it seems like the police chooses randomly who to arrest regarding these online threats.

Perhaps the police are too lazy to arrest hundreds of thousands of people for online threats.

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Skoryy

Well, when you do figure out the dividing line, please let the rest of us know. Because right now, we’re kinda hard pressed to tell the difference between lulz and serious, and we really really really don’t want any more dead kids.

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Sorenthaz

Or dead people in general for that matter.

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Bannex

I think the dividing line is when you say something that comes off like you’re highly motivated to commit a national atrocity, regardless of the medium, it will land you a visit from the authorities.

What that kid said is exactly the definition of a homicidal threat. I don’t think there much grey area here and honestly if this is how you troll then you’d better rethink your life.

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Frank White

Well, what makes it worse is that he is NOT a kid: he’s 26 years old. If he were really a kid I’d be more inclined to give him a pass for just plain stupidity. This guy is obviously pretty stupid too, but certainly old enough to be more aware of the possible consequences of his actions than a kid would be.

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Sorenthaz

If there’s one thing I learned, a lot of folks in their 20’s/early 30’s in this day/age are still mentally kids.

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Frank White

There’s actually some truth in that. There’s been lots of studies done showing that teens and people in those age groups are now, on average, less mature than people of the same ages in previous generations. Staying at home a lot more, living their lives on their phones, not working for pay as much as they used to, not getting laid, coddled by helicopter parents who are always there to keep baby healthy and clean, burdened by mountains of student debt if they go to college, living at home longer and longer, etc….. yeah, that’ll do it. ;)

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Bruno Brito

Can you link me those studies?

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Simple, don’t make threatening statements, don’t state that you intend to murder people. America is a violent country, one of the most violent in the world. Every threat is credible, every declaration of intent to do harm is credible.

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Friend

Sometimes I just put a word on random foreign name generator a.k.a google translate so I ended up having character name on different language. My worgen warrior happened to have it’s name on arabic, one day a fellow raider called me with racist slurs and told me with a name like that I will be shot whenever I showed up in the US airport

Well I just muted him and go on, apparently one’s name can be a terrorist threat in US =)) =))

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Richard de Leon III

As a Las Vegan, I have nothing but ire for this guy, we dont need bad apples like him especially after our own tragedies. I hope he gets severely punished.

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MikeInTheLab

“Some-what ailing…” 😕
For real though, how do people get to the point that every solution and expression is violence. Also, what’s with lawyer? No where in the game are you shooting a school but they argue it’s “part of the game.” Agh!

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Greaterdivinity

Public defenders, they’re obligated to provide the best defense for their clients (regardless of their feelings) and are frequently given impossible case loads that leave them little, if any time to properly review and mount legal defense for their clients.

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zoward

Which is why in the US if you’re faced with any charge more serious than jaywalking, you pay for the best lawyer you can afford.

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Greaterdivinity

Unfortunately, most folks can’t afford their own lawyers, especially low level offenders who are usually committing crimes stemming from their financial state (not an excuse for the crime, but a reality of some of the root causes).

And doubly unfortunately, public defenders in the US are getting thunderfucked. They do an important job, but they’re woefully understaffed (both in terms of actual lawyers and especially for any legal support staff like paralegals etc.), underfunded, and grossly overburdened with case loads. It’s shitty, because even alleged criminals deserve a full legal defense.

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MikeInTheLab

I agree most public defenders offices are underfunded and even understaffed. But that doesn’t excuse this “locker room talk” defense. If you’re in a locker room of straight white dudes and talk about raping women or even a particular woman I’m reporting that to SOMEONE.

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Utakata

It’s really the difference living in a just and free society versus living one that is tyranny and oppression. so the accused need their defense too…no matter how awful what they have done and/or how awful they are.

Ernost
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Ernost

It’s really the difference living in a just and free society versus living one that is tyranny and oppression.

Do public defenders ever actually win any cases? I thought they were just for appearances sake.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

A lot of good people are public defenders and no, their job is not for show.

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Utakata

I am probably not the best person to ask that question to. o.O

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Bryan Correll

Well, most criminal cases never actually go to trial. The most commonly cited number that I see on a quick google search is that 94% of state cases and a whopping 97% of federal cases end in plea bargains.* So a public defender usually isn’t trying to ‘win’ a case, just get the best deal they can for their clients.

* These are the USA numbers.

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Schmidt.Capela

In the most visible cases it’s kinda the case, but that’s because the most visible cases involve heinous crimes and perpetrators that either were caught red-handed or are unapologetic of their behavior; this is the kind of case that draw the crowds, and thus the kind of case that gets most of the reporting. No lawyer would win one of those cases regardless of the resources they could bring to bear.

There’s a lot of cases where people who can’t afford to hire lawyers are accused on flimsy or even outright forged evidence, or where law enforcement prosecutes someone with unjustifiable excess, though; in those cases public defenders are instrumental in keeping the wrongly accused or prosecuted out of jail.

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Mewmew

It’s very likely that the Lawyer has absolutely no clue about the game whatsoever, and in looking for a defense that is what the accused said to him. “It’s a game about shooting each other so I was joking about shooting people”.

They claim that the guy was thinking about shooting because he was playing a game about shooting, so his trolling and griefing (or “joking”) took on those thoughts. As horrible as a defense that that is, there is no better excuse really, so that lame one is all they have to go with.

Obviously, the game has nothing to do with real life shooting or shooting school kids, but he has to come up with some reason why he was saying this stuff. The Justice basically had the perfect reply to that though and killed that excuse right off.

“If you’re in a game with a bunch of people who play these games on the regular, and they’re reporting it, then obviously it rises to a level far beyond what is normal for the game play.” – I mean that’s just perfect and absolutely true.

Most likely the person is just a troll and a griefer, and yet since you never really know you have to report them. Especially since it is very near the Columbine Anniversary, the actual threat level is increased and the stuff is taken more seriously right now. Though these threats are always taken more seriously than they used to be, what I mean is that the threat level is elevated even more than usual because of the Columbine Anniversary.

That school shooting anniversary is also why if he was joking it’s the worst time to do it (not that it’s ever good – but this is about the time where a Judge thinks it’s especially good to make an example of someone).

Actual real disturbed people have come out around this anniversary. It’s been stirring them up. Maybe he didn’t know, or maybe he did and just thought it made his trolling “funnier”.

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Nathan Aldana

esopecially since mass-shootingas tend to come from one background in america, that of white, middle-class protestant men.

So something is likely very wrong within that specific subset.