A North Vancouver man who allegedly posted messages on Facebook saying he wanted to commit a crime in the Lower Mainland similar to the recent shooting rampage in Colorado appeared in North Vancouver provincial court Wednesday, charged with uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.
"His postings were several, and they were fairly lengthy and made reference to Colorado shootings and that he wanted to repeat that behaviour here in the Vancouver area," said Cpl. Richard De Jong of the North Vancouver RCMP.
Ryan John Lewis, 32, was arrested Aug. 1 at his home in the Lower Lonsdale area.
Had had allegedly posted comments supporting the Colorado incident, which left a dozen people dead after a man opened fire in a movie theatre during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, and said, "What happened in Colorado could or should be repeated in the Vancouver area," said De Jong.
"There was certainly anger portrayed in his Facebook page," De Jong added.
Investigators were alerted to the threats July 24 when an anonymous caller tipped them off, said De Jong.
Police launched an investigation to track down the owner of the Facebook account involved.
Lewis' account was not protected by privacy settings, meaning that anyone could access the page and see its contents. Facebook has now removed it.
Investigators seized Lewis' home computer for forensic analysis to see if he had made any other threats using social media, said De Jong.
The spokesman could not confirm whether any weapons had been found in Lewis' home.
Lewis has been released on bail under several conditions: He cannot have access to the Internet; he must live with his mother and abide by a curfew; he can't possess weapons or explosives; and he must not consume alcohol or non-prescription drugs.
He must also attend forensic psychiatric outpatient services and take anger management counselling.
According to information obtained by the North Shore News, Lewis is not known to suffer from mental illness but has been described as an "angry" person, who also suffers from chronic back pain.
In an interview with the Province newspaper, Lewis said he never intended to follow through on his comments, describing his actions as "stupid."
But De Jong said nobody should be surprised if comments of that kind prompt a reaction from police.
"Comments and postings are not private," he said.
De Jong said it doesn't matter if someone makes a threat in person, phones it in, texts it or posts it on social media.
"These type of threats are taken seriously."
Police do not consider Lewis, who works part time as a bakery assistant, an ongoing threat, added De Jong.
Lewis did not return calls from the News by press time. He will make his next appearance in court Aug. 22.
On July 20, gunman James Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and injured 58 when he opened fire in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
Since then, a possible copycat killer was reportedly arrested at an Ohio movie theatre.
Press reports said a man was discovered in possession of multiple weapons while sitting in an empty theatre waiting for the 10 p.m. showing of the same movie.