A threat of violence against South Florida’s LGBT community has been stopped, but people are still on edge.
A man has been arrested in Canada for making a very credible threat to Pride On the Block, which was held in West Palm Beach over the weekend.
The suspect is a 17-year-old man. Canadian authorities haven’t released his name. He’s accused of posting a video where he threatened to “shoot up” an LGBT event in WPB. Prosecutors in Palm Beach County are preparing charges and police say they will work to have him extradited. There has been no word on if Canada will also file charges.
Miami police first spotted the threat and alerted Palm Beach County authorities. The FBI and New York City police were also involved in the investigation.
Police learned of the threat just hours before Pride On the Block began June 5 at 1 p.m. They quickly got a SWAT team in place and had undercover officers in the crowd to spot suspicious activity or stop anyone trying to disrupt the event.
“We want the LGBT community to know we stand behind them. Every event they have we will protect them from hate and ignorance,” West Palm Beach Deputy Chief Rick Morris said at a news conference on Monday.
He Knows The Area
Police took the threat very seriously because the threat made the person sound as if he were in the area. There were very detailed descriptions including street names. At the time they found out about the video, investigators had no way of knowing the person who made the recording in Canada.
"These people are not heroes that are doing the shooting,” Morris said. “They're criminals. Some of them are terrorists."
The threat comes not just during Pride Month, but also around the sixth anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando.
Rand Hoch, the founder of Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), notes this is just the latest attack on the LGBT community.
"We’re under constant attack, we still have the specter of Pulse in our minds when we go to big events like this. Heartfelt thanks to the City of West Palm Beach Police Department for a prompt and thorough response to a credible threat against the local LGBTQ+ community.”
Pride On the Block went off as planned, and organizers say the event was fun for the entire community, not just LGBT people and their families.