Several Canadian news outlets report that a gamer in British Columbia thwarted a school shooting by alerting authorities after hearing a failing Texas high school student discuss his plans and targets over Xbox Live. Microsoft's enforcement division also was involved.
The Vancouver Sun says the unidentified gamer, of Port Alberni, B.C., was in an unspecified game with five other teammates on Feb. 4 when one, apparently distraught and nihilistic over being a failing student in his senior year, started talking about gunning down classmates at his high school. Authorities say the suspect spoke of his plans at length, listing also the names of individual targets.
The suspect disconnected when the gamer questioned him further, which was alarming enough for the gamer to alert his local office of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They began an investigation and located the suspect with the help of Microsoft Law Enforcement, who traced the suspect console to San Antonio. Authorities there made an arrest, and a teenage suspect faces charges, reports say.
While I can't find any report of this through any San Antonio media, it seems to have been picked up by the publications of the Canwest media conglomerate (including the Vancouver Sun, which illustrated its story with an original Xbox). The reports don't say how capable this suspect was of pulling off his plans, but imply he sounded serious enough.
The moral of the story, don't even joke about shooting kids at school over Xbox Live, or the Mounties will get you.
Edit: Because the original headline offended so many people, it was changed.
Update: Local television news in San Antonio has more details. WOAI-TV (thanks to original-gamer) reported this evening that the suspect had planned to obtain weapons from a friend in the Marine Corps, and considered tactical details like how long he would have before S.W.A.T. would arrive and intended to shoot a pregnant classmate and his best friend. According to a police report, he wanted to shoot up the school so that he could "make the headlines so that people would remember him forever".
WOAI-TV contacted school officials, who said authorities met with the school's principal and student before arresting the teen. The officials described the boy as remorseful, but believed there was "no serious threat." He has been suspended from school indefinitely, however, and will face a state felony charge.
So, while the teen in question may have lacked the means or the serious intent to pull this off, threats of this type are taken seriously whenever law enforcement get wind of them. Schools do especially. Whether it's a joke or an expression of teen angst, it's going to cause far, far more trouble than it is worth.
Second Update: Stephen Toulouse, the director of policy and enforcement for Xbox Live, makes this statement.
"I cannot comment on specific cases such as this except to say that the Xbox Enforcement team works very closely with Microsoft's law enforcement engagement teams to assist the police wherever possible. We urge customers that feel any behavior on Xbox LIVE could be threatening or criminal to contact law enforcement in addition to using our built in tools to help protect their experience."
B.C. Gamer Alerts Police to Prevent U.S. High School Shooting [Vancouver Sun, thanks James C.]