Las Vegas police arrested a man over threatening statements he made in the Heroes of Storm in-game chat. The arrest occurred on April 8, when authorities were alerted to comments concerning a potential school shooting.
“Someday, when I have enough money to buy a gun and some ammunition I will shoot up a school where I live,” the player wrote. The police report identifies him as 26-year-old Michael Mickowski. “Imagine if I decided to go to an elementary school too. Instead of a high school or middle school. I’ll buy a gun and shoot everyone I can. I’ll stream it on Twitch.”
After Blizzard became aware of the comments, they notified Las Vegas Police who were able to locate Mickowski through his IP address. Detectives interviewed him at his house on April 8 before taking him into police custody. The police report states that Mickowski was “evasive” during questioning.
Authorities are currently holding Michael Mickowski at the Clark County Detention Center. His bail is set at $150,000, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 25.
Gamers have a long history of making threats to each other, game companies, and the public at large. The perceived safety of online communication enables people with malicious intent – or poor impulse control – to express their hatred freely.
Just recently Square Enix received a death threat over loot boxes. Sora News reported a February 5 email threatening employees of the Japanese game company with decapitation. Similarly, City of Heroes community member Leandro Pardini reported receiving a number of death threats from gamers over his involvement with the game’s secret server.
Notably, a few years back another Heroes of the Storm player was arrested for making death threats to Blizzard. In 2016 the FBI apprehended Stephen Cebula, who was 28 at the time, for making very specific threats on Facebook. Those included visiting Blizzard headquarters in California “with an AK-47.”
Games player and write-abouter from Ottawa. Doom basically raised me.