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Computer junkie a modest hero

Concordia student hailed for alerting police to teen's Internet threat to attack his U.K. school

Mar 21, 2009 04:30 AM

Andrew Chung

MONTREAL - A Concordia University student who helped thwart a potential firebombing at a British high school is being recognized for his efforts on both sides of the Atlantic.

J. P. Neufeld was on an online forum Tuesday morning when he spotted a new posting entitled, "This is it," threatening to attack the school in Norfolk in the east of England. He immediately telephoned police there.

An armed 16-year-old was arrested Tuesday and detained.

Now, Neufeld is being hailed as a hero not only on the Internet, but Concordia will recognize him with a special certificate at its annual awards dinner April 2 for, as dean of students Beth Morey said, "having the courage to get involved."

In addition, the Norfolk Constabulary's chief of police has sent him a letter of thanks. And on the website, a number of students from Attleborough High School have thanked him for "saving" them.

"If people want to call me a hero for making a phone call, so be it. But there are people out there more deserving than I am," said Neufeld, a Winnipeg native studying electro-acoustics at Concordia's music department. The modest 21-year-old computer junkie makes music for computer games, among other things.

"When I saw his posting, I thought, `If I don't do something, I'm going to spend the rest of my life regretting it, knowing I could have made a difference, to call somebody before somebody got hurt," he explained. "Especially with Columbine and everything," he said of the 1999 high school massacre in Colorado.

Neufeld was on the music and animation sharing website Tuesday morning when he spotted the posting.

Probing into it, he discovered that its author, a teenager nicknamed "sirtom93," was making a threat against his school.

"Today at 11:30 GMT I will attack my school with arson and other forms of violence," wrote the teen, who has not been named by police. "Those bastards will pay."

He also posted a picture of a gas can, and a screen shot from the infamous Columbine school surveillance tapes. He also wrote, "I have cans, matches, lighter, knives, compressed explosives. S--- will go down in flames."

By this time, before 7 a.m., Neufeld was phoning the Norfolk police. Just before sirtom93, who in other postings has called himself a communist, left his house, he posted a link to a video on police brutality. Police were waiting for the teen at Attleborough High School. Searching his bag, police said they found a knife, matches, and a canister of flammable liquid.

He was detained under Britain's Mental Health Act.

"I just hope the kid gets the help he needs," Neufeld said.
Full story here:

And the thread that started it all (language warning):
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