Man arrested by FBI for online threats cautions: ‘Think before you post’

CHICAGO -- A young man who once threatened a mass shooting at the University of Chicago is serving as a dramatic example of the damage that can be done in an instant online.

In November 2015, then 21-year-old college student Jabari Dean made a chilling threat online, saying he was going to show up with guns at the University of Chicago and shoot 16 white people in revenge for the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

The University of Chicago campus was shut down as authorities responded to what they treated as a terrorist threat. Jabari was arrested by the FBI. And while he managed to avoid jail time, he says the split-second decision made in a moment of anger and frustration destroyed his dreams of being a lawyer.

“I was just so sorry about all the trouble that I caused... all the trouble that I inflicted on everybody,” he said.

The FBI in Chicago released a new public service announcement Thursday featuring Jabari's story and a simple message: "think before you post."In teaming up with the FBI as part of his court-ordered community service, Jabari hopes to keep others from making the same kind of terrible mistake. Because for the FBI, even fake threats that need to be treated as real.

Michael Anderson, Special Agent in Charge at the Chicago FBI office, said threats take up a "huge" amount of resources even if they're fake, because the agency can't "take any chances."

“We can’t sit there and say ‘well, we get so many of these that we’re gonna sit there and guess at which ones are real and which ones aren’t," Anderson said.

And for Jabari - who was once a promising student- the impact can’t be measured.

"Everything’s changed. Like, everything from relationships with family members, to just me going to school and having a future," he said. "My future’s pretty much - over."