A former University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) student who posted an online threat to commit a mass shooting at the University of Chicago is now the face of a FBI campaign to encourage the public to “think before you post.”
“People took it as a terrorist threat. The University got shut down. I got arrested by the FBI, and now I don't know what my future looks like,” Jabari Dean said in a video that was posted to the FBI’s YouTube account. “I search my name on the web almost every day and look at the stuff. It's not going away. Think before you post.”
The University of Chicago cancelled all classes and activities on November 30, 2015 after the FBI became aware of Dean’s threat, which he made in a comment on a WorldStarHipHop video.
“This is my only warning. At 10 AM Monday morning, I’m going to the campus quad of the University of Chicago. I will be armed with an M-4 carbine and two desert eagles, all fully loaded. I will execute approximately 16 white male students and/or staff, which is the same number of times [Laquan] McDonald was killed. I will then die killing white policemen in the process. This is not a joke. I am to do my part and rid the world of white devils. I expect you to do the same,” Dean wrote.
Dean posted the threat shortly after the release of a video of the Laquan McDonald shooting. He says in the FBI video that he needed to “vent.”
“At the time, I just wasn't thinking. I used social media to vent. I wish I would have thought about the effects of scaring people. I didn't mean for that to happen,” he said.
He was detained by the FBI on November 30, the day classes were cancelled. No weapons were found at his residence and the FBI determined that the threat was fake. Prosecutors agreed to drop charges on the conditions that Dean complete 100 hours of community service and speak out about his experience, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Dean spoke at the FBI headquarters in Chicago on Thursday with special agent Michael Anderson as part of their public effort to discourage fake threats.
“I have a pretty bleak future,” Dean said, according to the Tribune. “I can’t pass background checks. I’ve been expelled from school. Yeah, it sucks.”
Anderson said that agencies must assume that threats like Dean’s are serious, and, in the case of fake threats, that means money and resources are wasted that could otherwise be focused on serious matters.
“We are able to use this as a platform to warn others so history doesn’t continue to repeat itself,” Anderson said, according to the Tribune. “Or if anything, we can cut down on the number of these threats because we have to share these cautionary tales, and we appreciate his cooperation in doing so. So I think it’s a good, proper compromise for him legally and then allows us to get his message out.”