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BOSTON (AP) — Two Iowa men accused of making online threats of violence against a Pokemon competition in Boston were ordered held without bail Tuesday after a judge rejected arguments by their lawyers that their comments amounted to idle online bravado.
Judge Thomas Horgan ordered Kevin Norton, 18, of Ames, and James Stumbo, 27, of Boone, held for at least four months as they await trial.
Prosecutors say the men made social media threats against last month's World Pokemon Championships and had a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15 rifle and nearly 300 rounds of ammunition in their car when they tried to register for the event Aug. 20.
During a dangerousness hearing in Boston Municipal Court, Boston police Detective James Simpson said Stumbo posted a photo of Norton's car, with two guns crossed on the trunk, with the message, "Kevin Norton and I are ready for worlds Boston here we come!!!"
Simpson also described chatroom conversations Stumbo participated in with others in which references were made to the Boston Massacre of 1770, the Boston Marathon bombings and the Columbine massacre.
Stumbo's lawyer, Steven Goldwyn, said it was mere speculation that the "vague bravado talk" by Stumbo means a shooting would have been carried out.
"This is just the way they all spoke to each other," he said.
But the judge noted that the men brought guns and a large amount of ammunition with them from Iowa.
"This wasn't just kid talk on the computer," he said.
Simpson said Norton posted a threatening remark after an online moderator banned him from a forum for ridiculing another participant.
"Oh okay that's fine then I will just shoot him on Friday thanks," the comment said, referring to a man from Missouri who was scheduled to attend the Pokemon conference, Simpson said.
Norton's lawyer, John O'Neill, said Norton cooperated with police, led them to his car — which contained the guns and ammunition — and did not attempt to flee Boston during the two-day period between when he and Stumbo were stopped from registering for the Pokemon event at the Hynes Convention Center and when they were arrested.
Assistant District Attorney Joseph Janezic said the men drove 25 hours to Boston with guns and ammunition in their car after making the online threats.
"It's a different scenario than idle chitchat on a Facebook or Twitter account," he said. "You're one step away from carrying those out."
Stumbo's mother and brother traveled from Iowa to Boston to attend the hearing but declined to speak with reporters. The judge allowed them to speak to Stumbo briefly as he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Goldwyn said he plans to file a motion to dismiss the charges. The judge scheduled a hearing on the motion for Sept. 24.
Both men are charged only with illegal possession of guns and ammunition, but Janezic said an investigation is continuing to determine whether it was "cyberbullying or a mass casualty" situation.