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Royal Palm Beach Publix shooting highlights Florida's online threat law

Sheriff says shooting may have been avoided if someone alerted deputies about shooter's social media posts
Posted at 9:27 AM, Jun 14, 2021

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has made it very clear, he doesn't think people who knew the gunman in last week's fatal shooting at a Royal Palm Beach Publix did enough to stop the violence.

He said there were obvious warning signs from the shooter on social media.

Bradshaw said if people reported those posts, a special Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office task force could have intervened.

"Somebody needs to get involved. People need to get involved, and we need to wake up," Bradshaw said Friday during a news conference. "The real sad part of this, other than the fact two people are dead, is that there was a chance this could have been stopped."

The Florida Legislature passed a law last year defining what's an illegal online threat. This includes written threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or act of terrorism. Under the law, anyone who does this would be committing a second-degree felony.

Bradshaw said the gunman claimed online he wanted to kill people and children.

What's unclear is whether this would have been considered breaking this law, since the gunman wasn't specific about particular people.

Bradshaw also didn't say whether the gunman expressed any specific plans for violence.

Still, Bradshaw said, this tragedy could have all been avoided with a telephone call.

Here's how you can report an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County.