The gangs of New York are moving their wars to Facebook.
Last week, the New York Police Department announced it has been successful in trawling the social networking site to crack down on illicit gang activity and rid the streets of illegal firearms, but now one of the dissenters is expressing his displeasure on Facebook.
The New York Post reports that Deputy Inspector Joseph Gulotta, who is spearheading the Facebook-based initiative to target gangs in the rough Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, was the target of a death threat on the 73rd Precinct’s Facebook page.
The threat was left by Jonathan Thompson, a 19-year-old, who turned himself in Sunday night, according to the New York Daily News. His chilling post described taking down Gulotta and referenced his vehicle and work schedule. The post has since been deleted.
“A threat against a police officer is a threat against all of us,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who added that post didn’t create a lot of chatter online but was serious enough to be threatening.
Phillip Lights, Thompson’s lawyer, said his client didn’t make a threat against Gulotta and insists he’s innocent. The teenager has 13 prior arrests including disorderly conduct and menacing. On Sunday, he was charged with making a terroristic threat and aggravated harassment.
Thompson’s behavior could be indicative of future trends, so an arrest, the police say, could act as a statement. It’s not clear if he has any ties with the Crips-affiliated OccFam gang that police frequently scour for on Facebook.
Gulotta is seen as a trailblazer in the NYPD community for his digital-first focus. Since his precinct ramped up its Facebook efforts, 200 guns have been pulled off Brownsville’s street in 2012—up from 156 in 2011. For the first six weeks of 2013, police nabbed 23 firearms, which was more than double compared to the same time period last year.
Photo by Dave Hosford/Flickr