FBI: Man threatened to bomb officer's funeral

Jennifer Chambers, and George Hunter
The Detroit News
Michigan State Police officers arrive for the funeral for Detroit Police Sgt. Kenneth Steil on September 23, 2016.

Detroit — A 20-year-old Detroit man accused of threatening to kill police officers while they attended a funeral for a slain Detroit police sergeant inside a St. Clair Shores church last week appeared in federal court on Wednesday to face criminal charges.

Deshawn Maurice Lanton came before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub for an initial appearance on a criminal complaint that charges him with using the internet to transmit a threat.

Wearing a black T-shirt and black pants, Lanton was walked into court by the U.S. Marshals Service. Lanton answered the judge’s questions with a “yes, your honor” and the hearing lasted less than two minutes.

Majzoub set a detention hearing for Thursday and Lanton was ordered temporarily detained.

Lanton is named in an FBI criminal complaint filed Wednesday that alleges he made a threatening post on a Facebook Live video from WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) as the station covered Sgt. Kenneth Steil’s service Friday morning.

Steil’s funeral was held at St. Joan of Arc Church and was attended by hundreds of police officials from across the state.

According to the FBI complaint, Lanton, under the user name of “Kane Pnotes” wrote: “Maybe I should drop a bomb on tha building and get rid of the rest of y’all.”

Police said the post was made at 11:28 a.m. Friday, about 90 minutes after the funeral began, and was made in the livestream comments as it showed the inside of the church, identifying numerous uniformed police officers entering the building.

At about 10:30 a.m. Friday, Detroit police had already received a tip about another post made on Facebook under the screen name “Kane Pnotes” in which the user, who police say was Lanton, was attempting to sell a .40 caliber Hi-Point gun with red tip bullets and a weapon light.

The FBI researched Lanton’s Facebook account and found posts of multiple videos of police officers getting injured with Lanton allegedly commenting “how pleased he was to see officers being injured,” the complaint says.

“This case is different from some other generalized threats on social media against police officers and other groups because this statement threatens specific harm to a particular group of people at a precise location,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement.

Lanton is on probation with the Michigan Department of Corrections and has a criminal history including convictions for fleeing police, assaulting/resisting/obstructing police and receiving/concealing stolen property. He also has a conviction for felonious assault.

“We take these threats very seriously, and when you threaten to kill a Detroit police officer we will relentlessly pursue you and arrest you,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said.

Lanton faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.