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Young man who threatened to shoot up U. of C. won’t be prosecuted

The uncle of Jabari R. Dean, Phillip Rutherford, told reporters last year that his nephew was just "a stupid kid" with nothing to do. | Jon Seidel/Sun-Times

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago has chosen to defer prosecution of a South Side man who allegedly made an online threat that shut down the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus last November.

Jabari Dean, 21, must now abide by several conditions laid out in a five-page document approved by a federal judge Wednesday afternoon. If the young man is successful after 18 months, the charges against him will be dropped. Last month, prosecutors filed a one-count information charging Dean with making the online threat, which was prompted by the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

“We’re extremely satisfied with the conclusion of the case,” Damon Cheronis, Dean’s defense attorney, said after court.

The conditions outlined in Dean’s agreement with federal prosecutors prohibit him from, among other things, possessing a gun or applying for a Firearm Owner Identification card. He is also required to complete 100 hours of community service that could include community outreach for the FBI, including appearing in a film “or any other media.”

Dean also admitted in the agreement to posting the threat on Nov. 28. It appeared on the website, days after the release of video that caught Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times.

“This is my only warning. At 10 a.m. on Monday mourning (sic) I am going to the campus quad of the University of Chicago. I will be armed with a M-4 Carbine and 2 Desert Eagles all fully loaded. I will execute aproximately (sic) 16 white male students and or staff, which is the same number of time (sic) Mcdonald (sic) was killed. I then will die killing any number of white policemen that I can in the process. This is not a joke. I am to do my part to rid the world of the white devils. I expect you to do the same . . .”

Dean quickly deleted the post. But someone sent a screenshot to the FBI. The University of Chicago abruptly canceled classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus after FBI counterterrorism officials warned the school of the threat.

But Dean’s uncle told reporters last year that Dean is simply a “stupid kid” with nothing to do. And a source familiar with the investigation said authorities found no gun when they searched Dean’s home.

“As we told the court, we entered into the agreement because of the unusual context of this case,” Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said, “including Mr. Dean’s age and background, the clear evidence that he did not intend to carry out a threat, and his voluntary action in taking down the posting within a few minutes of it appearing online.”