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After Newtown Shooting, NYPD Considers Entrapment Schemes to Catch ‘Potential Deranged Gunmen’


A New York Times report indicates that “top intelligence officials in the New York Police Department” met Thursday to discuss how to use the Internet to “identify potential ‘deranged’ gunmen before they strike.”

NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stated, “The techniques would include cyber-searches of language that mass-casualty shooters have used in e-mails and Internet postings…The goal would be to identify the shooter in cyberspace, engage him there and intervene, possibly using an undercover to get close, and take him into custody or otherwise disrupt his plans.”

To anyone familiar with how the NYPD has targeted potential terrorists, it is clear what Kelly and others are considering is developed entrapment schemes or—as the NYPD would probably call them—”sting operations” for catching individuals, who might be responsible for mass shootings.

NYPD spokesperson Paul J. Browne shared the department plans to send officers to Newtown, the city in Connecticut where a mass shooting killing 26 people took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School one week ago. Twenty of them were children.

Browne also said possible tactics to be used would be to search online “for terms used by active shooters in the past that may be an indicator of future intentions.” This, Kelly noted, would not be all that different from how the NYPD has looked online for “terrorists’ chatter.” The idea would be to find “apolitical or deranged killers before they become active shooters.”

What the NYPD is considering is precrime. They are talking about trying to catch people, who are probably mentally ill, and convicting them of “plotting” a mass shooting before they even shoot people. More significantly, they are acknowledging that agents could be used to nudge these “potential deranged gunmen” into carrying out plans for a shooting probably right up until the moment they put their hand on a weapon and begin their approach toward a school filled with children.

Consider, for example, the case of Jose Pimentel, who faces state terrorism charges for allegedly building a pipe bomb that he planned to explode. The NYPD used informants in a sting operation that eventually led to his arrest on November 18, 2011. The FBI was also involved.

Pimentel, who is twenty-eight years old, moved from the Dominican Republic to the United States. He had apparently seen witches before moving to the US but, after moving, began to see “spirits.” This ended when he converted to Islam in 2004 at a Manhattan mosque. He lived on $2/day allowance from his mother, which was not enough for carfare to the mosque where he wanted to pray. And Pimentel had a blog with a link to material that came from Inspire, the online magazine of al Qaeda.

Pimentel was a mentally unstable person, who converted to Islam. As a New York Times report noted, his neighbors found him to be a “somewhat lethargic figure. He would often sit on a bench for hours with a “blank look” on his face. Talking Points Memo confirmed Pimentel smoked marijuana with the NYPD informant. Pimentel also tried to circumcise himself. Prior to the sting operation, he had a felony conviction for purchasing a computer with stolen credit card information. [cont’d.]

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."