Alison Glazer

Last week, MSA’s executive protection team was ready to spend the weekend working at a large convention center in Boston. Yet, when we received a call Thursday night requesting more personnel to accommodate a perceived risk, MSA was forced to move quickly. In response to the call, MSA was able to provide nearly triple the number originally scheduled personnel early Friday morning and aid in the prevention of what could have been a deadly occurrence.

This past weekend, two men drove together from their homes in Iowa to the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston, MA to compete in the Pokémon World Championship—with a car full of firearms and ammunition.

Kevin Norton, 18, and James Austin Stumbo, 27 were arrested this weekend, charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. Upon their arrival at the convention center, the two were swiftly detained and their weapons confiscated, avoiding what could have been a disastrous situation.

Austin Stumbo (left), Kevin Norton (right)
(Image Credit: Boston Herald) 

The successful prevention of this potentially dangerous situation is due to an effective transfer of information, starting with a moderator in a Pokémon related Facebook group which the men were members of.  In the days preceding the competition, Norton and Stumbo had been active on social media, posting text and images that hinted at what they had planned for that weekend.  When the moderator of the Facebook group kicked Norton out for bullying someone, he responded with “Oh, ok, that’s fine then I will just shoot him on Friday thanks”.  The moderator alerted security at the Pokémon World Championship of this comment, which put Norton on their radar.

The men’s online presence didn’t end there, though. Stumbo posted a photo of their car and guns, which received unsettling comments, including a reference to the Columbine school shooting and a comment from Norton that spoke of “killing the competition”.

After being notified of potentially dangerous activity from the Facebook group moderator, security at the convention center alerted Police and the Boston Region Intelligence Center (BRIC).  Additionally, they increased their on-site security.

MSA was scheduled to provide 4-5 operatives to work this convention. However, MSA received a call Thursday night requesting more personnel. MSA was able to provide 10-15 operatives for that weekend, beginning with a 0700 start that Friday morning. This emergency response team was accompanied by one Explosive Detection Canine team.

The threat was mitigated when Norton and Stumbo arrived at the convention center and were immediately stopped by security. Police had received a search warrant and were able to immediately confiscate the weapons from the men’s car.

MSA commends the security department at the convention center, with our Director of Boston Operations proclaiming, “their professionalism is off the charts”. The collaboration of MSA with the security dept., Boston Police and BRIC enabled the prevention of what "could have been something really serious”.
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