Federal prosecutors in Florida charged a 19-year-old man this week with posting an online threat to commit a mass shooting on the New York City subways during Thanksgiving.
Robert Trout III, 19, of St. Petersburg faces a count of knowingly transmitting in interstate commerce a true threat, a charge that carries a maximum five-year prison sentence if convicted.
According to U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg of the Middle District of Florida, Trout made the threat on Instagram, posting a video that he intended to travel to New York during Thanksgiving and shoot “anybody” that he saw.
In the video, which was not released, Trout allegedly said he would commit the mass shooting on Thanksgiving night, Nov. 23, and warned, “If you’re from New York City, do not take the train on Thursday evening.”
Along with issuing the verbal threat, federal prosecutors reported, Trout also allegedly showed off multiple firearms — including a pair of semi-automatic firearms with extended clips.
Trout allegedly said in the video that the clips contained 60 bullets — “That’s 60 shots, that’s 60 people dead,” he claimed.
Federal agents and the local Pinellas Park Police Department were alerted to the online postings, and tracked Trout down through a review of his Instagram account and witness statements.
Citing local law enforcement information, WTSP-TV reported that Trout has “ties to New York,” and family members believed he was slated to move to the city soon.
Trout was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Tampa on Dec. 7, and ordered held without bail pending additional hearings, federal prosecutors said.
Joana Flores, a spokesperson for the MTA, expressed gratitude to the law enforcement agents who cracked the case.
“The NYPD and federal law enforcement authorities made clear prior to and on Thanksgiving that there were no specific credible threats to New York City, including to the transit system, and we are grateful to policing professionals here, and across the country, for the work they do to keep New Yorkers safe,” Flores said.
Updated on Dec. 10 at 2:10 p.m.