When a social media post crosses the line from free speech following Foxboro threat
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE): The Foxboro Police Department is still waiting to arrest Tobias Gray after he posted on Facebook about shooting random people in Foxboro because the Patriots signed star wide receiver Antonio Brown.
The now-deleted Facebook post is raising questions on where to draw the line between passion and crime on social media.
"Threats are not constitutionally protected if they meet certain criteria," Andrew Horwitz, a law professor at Roger Williams University, said. "Generally it has to be a threat to be intended to cause fear and taken seriously."
According to a criminal complaint, Gray's Facebook post said, "Since the Patriots signed Antonio Brown I am going to pull a white boys school shooting at Foxboro. I will go shoot up random people."
"People make threats all the time," Horwitz said. "People have arguments and say I'm going to kill you. We don't criminalize that unless a reasonable person would take it seriously and be in fear."
Gray was charged with threatening to commit a crime and uttering a terroristic threat. Whether the facts of the case meet the criteria will be up to the judge or a jury if it goes to trial.
"I think it was a spur of the moment thing. He's a big Giants fan," Maria Dalonba said. "So he didn't take it good that A.B. was switched over to the patriots."
Gray does have a violent track record. On Monday, he was arraigned in Providence for a domestic assault charge and threatening officers.
Gray has a hearing in Providence on Wednesday. The Foxboro Police Department said they will make their arrest once Gray's charges are resolved or he makes bail in Providence.
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