Mall massacre hoax accused dies

16:00 AEST Thu Jul 31 2008
The threat that was posted to the 4chan website.The threat that was posted to the 4chan website.
The threat that was posted to the 4chan website.
By Shaun Davies, ninemsn
| comments0 comments so far

A Melbourne man whose alleged online post about a massacre in a US mall sparked a full-scale police operation has died.

Jarrad Willis was found dead on July 8 in the Melbourne suburb of Frankston, police said. The circumstances around the death will be the subject of a coronial investigation.

Willis, 21, was due to face Frankston Magistrates Court on charges of criminal defamation, which were related to circulating an email rather than the threat posted to website 4chan.

The hoax threat, posted to 4chan's infamous /b/ imageboard, claimed a shooting rampage would occur at the Grove shopping centre in Beverly Hills on December 6, 2007.

"This is my last message, tomorrow a shooting will go down at 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles … I will not stop until I am incapacitated or killed by a police officer," the threat read.

Police reacted by scrambling officers to the shopping centre and launching an international manhunt, which eventually tracked the message to Willis's IP address.

The police operation cost in excess of $100,000.

Willis, a 21-year-old philosophy student, was detained over the prank but never charged. Police later charged him with offences relating to other incidents.

The hoax attracted worldwide media attention and Willis gained notoriety among 4chan denizens.

4chan is an anarchic online community best known as a birthplace of many popular internet memes, including Rickrolling and LOLcats.

It is also intimately connected to Anonymous, the shadowy internet group that declared war on Scientology in January this year.

Willis's death is an open coronial case and no date has yet been set for an inquest.

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