N.D.G. student thwarts British arson plot
Published Friday, March 20, 2009 4:58PM EDT
A Concordia university student is being credited with foiling a troubled British teen's plot to firebomb his high school.
J.P. Neufeld, a music student, had logged onto an online chat forum over breakfast Tuesday when he spotted the threat to burn down Attleborough High School in Norfolk.
He took it seriously and immediately called local police using his Internet phone service after doing a quick Web search to find the phone number.
Within half an hour, Norfolk Constabulary officers had seized a 16-year-old at the doors of the school. The teen was carrying a knife, matches and a canister of fuel. Police later searched the boy's home and confiscated his computer.
The teen, identified only as T.B., was arrested on suspicion of threats to commit criminal damage and possession of an offensive weapon. He's in custody under the U.K.'s Mental Health Act.
Music-sharing site the key
Neufeld saw the threat posted on NewGrounds.com, a website dedicated to sharing music and homemade animation.
"Today at 11:30 GMT I will attack my school with arson and other forms of violence. Those bastards will pay," the post read.
Below, was a badly lit photo of a gasoline can. Also included were a time and date stamp taken from a video from the 1999 Columbine massacre.
"What went through my mind was 'Oh God, I hope this is a joke,'" he told CTV Montreal.
When he realised it wasn't, he called police.
He said the officer who took his call sounded surprised to be getting a call from Canada but took down the information nonetheless.
Spoke to suspect
After calling police, Neufeld tried to stall T.B., asking him if he really intended to walk into school with a gas can.
"Pretty much," T.B. answered.
Once T.B. had left the forum, Neufeld and another user named "deckheadtottie" announced they had called police. Several users pitched in, establishing T.B.'s identity.
The school's principal, Stuart Bailey, said he's grateful the attack was stopped before it began.
"I am very grateful to the person who did the right thing and made us aware," he said. "...Whilst the incident is clearly not welcome, I am pleased with the manner in which it was dealt with both by my staff, and by Norfolk Constabulary."
Norfolk police also expressed gratitude and praised the actions of the chat room users.
"It goes to show that things written on the Internet can be viewed across the world and we thank the person who has read this and done something about it," police Supt. Katie Elliott told British journalists.