A 26-year-old Las Vegas man is facing a terrorism charge after authorities accused him of boasting about shooting elementary school children.
The comments came to light while Michael Mickowski, of the northeast valley, was logged onto the multi-player online video game Heroes of the Storm and started chatting in the messaging platform.
“Someday, when I have enough money to buy a gun and some ammunition I will shoot up a school where I live,” Mickowski wrote, according to his arrest report. “Imagine if I decided to go to an elementary school too. Instead of a high school or middle school imagine. I’ll buy a gun and shoot everyone I can. I’ll stream it on twitch.”
An intelligence analyst for Blizzard, which invented the game, was so concerned with Mickowski’s comments that authorities were notified.
Mickowski continued with “other dark statements,” the report alleges, including: “Watch me blow the head off a 5-year-old with a 12-gauge shotgun.”
Las Vegas police reported that there are 18 elementary schools within a 2-mile radius of Mickowski’s residence.
It was “only due to a lack of money that a mass casualty, active shooter event has not occurred at the hands of Michael Mickowski,” police wrote.
Authorities traced the IP address to Mickowski, who was living with his mother. She was not home when police arrived at the home. Mickowski opened the door and confirmed his online screen name, according to the report, and told detectives that he has made “bombastic statements.”
“He was asked if he wrote anything in his game that might have seemed threatening and he was evasive and non-specific,” police wrote. He then asked for a lawyer.
Detectives left a phone message for Mickowski’s mother, whose name was redacted from the report.
When she called back, a detective wrote, “I explained that Michael was with us, safe and unharmed, the first thing she asked me was quote, ‘did he hurt anyone?’”
The next day, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman ruled that Mickowski would be held on $150,000 bail. Should he post bail, the judge ordered, he should be prohibited from using the internet, playing video games and accessing guns.
At another hearing on Thursday, Deputy Public Defender Belinda Harris pointed out that Mickowski had no prior criminal history.
“I understand the climate we’re living in right now, and when people say things, we take immediate action,” Harris said. “But I don’t think any weapons were recovered. … I don’t know video games, but it seems that this was kind of the nature of the video game.”
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson declined to lower Mickowski’s bail.
“Unfortunately we live in a time where it’s pretty much every other week we open up the newspaper or turn on the news and see another mass shooting,” the judge said. “If you’re in a game with a bunch of people who play these games on the regular, and they’re reporting it, then obviously it rises to a level far beyond what is normal for the game play.”
The judge ordered Mickowski back in court later this month and urged him to seek psychological help.
“As much as we would like to stop these things from happening, it’s a virtual impossibility,” Tobiasson said. “At any given time, someone could walk into any given place, including this courthouse — I’m actually shocked it hasn’t happened here — and take a bunch of people out. And it seems to be the thing to do these days.”