Thursday, September 25, 2008

Poster on McClatchy web site facing criminal charges

A Washington state man who wrote on a newspaper Web site that he was going to shoot up a shopping mall says he was just making a point after a mentally disturbed man went on a shooting spree. But prosecutors say he was making a threat.

Jeffrey N. Gargaro, 28, faces possible jail time for writing that he should shoot up a mall "just for the hell of it. ... No drugs, no mental illness." He is fighting the charge on free-speech grounds.

Gargaro is one of several people investigated in recent years for postings that tested the limits in the freewheeling arena of the Web.

"We admit he was stupid," said Jeffrey Lustick, Gargaro's lawyer. But "people say some pretty unusual things on blogs."

Isaac Zamora, 28, began his rampage Sept. 2 near the town of Alger, 70 miles north of Seattle, and continued it on Interstate 5, investigators said. Described by his family as mentally disturbed, he was captured after a police chase and charged with six counts of murder.

The dead included a man who had accused Zamora of trespassing, a woman who lived nearby, two construction workers, a motorist along the highway, and Skagit County Deputy Sheriff Anne Jackson, who had responded to a call to check on Zamora.

The next day, Gargaro began his post on The Bellingham Herald's Web site by telling another commenter to "shut up." He added: "Also to all of you who blame drugs ... shut up as well. You know what, I am going to go shoot up sunset square today ... just for the hell of it. No drugs, no mental illness ... you can blame todays episode on video games and George Bush's example of 'pay back' to society."

An officer in St. Louis saw Gargaro's post the day after the shootings and pointed it out to the Bellingham Police Department. A detective obtained a search warrant and tracked Gargaro down at his home in Blaine, north of Bellingham.

I predict the criminal case against Gargaro will fall apart. Yes, the guy is absolutely a creep. This quote -- "Also to all of you who blame drugs ... shut up as well..." -- makes me think the guy is a probably a pot head, too. Most likely he doesn't even own a gun. But I don't see how his post constitutes a threat, since it wasn't made to the victim.
Stupid to the max, but not a felon. Photo: AP.


Anonymous said...

Betcha $5 this guy is buddies with IVAW member Evan Knappenberger, who got a nice little visit from the FBI for advocating jihad against Michelle Malkin (and some troop support groups) back in the early Spring.

Anonymous said...

Criminal? I don't know, but there is an element of terrorism in his threats. If I were Sunset Square, I might be tempted to go after the guy for some sort of civil penalty using fear and intimidation to impact my business. Not sure where the law stands on that, but it probably doesn't matter - I doubt the guy has any assets worth pursuing with such a suit.