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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Detroit Man Charged with Making a Threat Against Law Enforcement Officers

A twenty-one year-old Detroit man was taken into custody after a criminal complaint was filed in federal court charging him with using the Internet to transmit a threat, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Chief James Craig, Detroit Police Department.

Deshawn Maurice Lanton was charged in the complaint. 

The criminal complaint alleges that on September 23, 2016, a threatening post was made to the WXYZ (Channel 7) live stream webcast of Detroit Police Sgt. Kenneth Steil’s funeral.  The post read “Maybe I should drop a bomb on tha building to get rid of the rest of y’all.”  The post was on the live stream showing the inside of the church where the funeral was taking place as hundreds of uniformed police officers entered the building.   Investigation into the threat identified Lanton as the man who made the threat. 

According to the criminal complaint, Lanton attempted to sell a firearm and ammunition on a Facebook page commonly used to buy and sell property online.  Lanton’s Facebook page shows multiple videos of police officers getting injured with comments expressing his pleasure seeing the officers injured.

"This case is different from some other generalized threats on social media against police officers and other groups because this statement threatens specific harm to a particular group of people at a precise location," McQuade said. 

“Threats to harm or kill police officers are an affront to the men and women who risk their lives daily to protect the communities of Michigan they have pledged to serve.  The FBI takes these threats seriously and works closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure threats are evaluated, investigated, and those responsible brought to justice.” said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. “Just as we are prepared to tirelessly investigate individuals who threaten police officers and other first responders, the FBI remains committed to safeguarding the rights of all individuals specifically targeted because of their race, gender, religion, or other affiliation.”

Lanton made his initial appearance this afternoon in federal court and was temporarily detained until his bond hearing tomorrow at 1pm.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.  Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

If found guilty, Lanton faces up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Updated September 28, 2016