Man sends threatening emojis to Hempfield Township Police Chief - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Man sends threatening emojis to Hempfield Township Police Chief

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GREENVILLE, Pa. -

Hempfield Township's Police Chief says Maurice Briggs crossed the line when he sent several threatening emojis through a Facebook message.

The Mercer District Attorney says the messages were sent just four days after a search at Briggs' South Second Street apartment netted suspected crack cocaine, heroin, pills and cash.

According to court records the emojis include caricatures of guns and knives pointed at pigs, skulls, syringes, money, and pills.

Legal expert Matthew Mangino says this is crossing a line. “It would be the same as if he drew a picture of a gun pointed at a police officer and attacked it on his door. The intent is to intimidate that witness.”

The criminal complaint says the emojis are a clear attempt to harass and terrorize the police chief, who will be a witness in a criminal case against Briggs.

Briggs is also accused of sending a Facebook friend request to the chief's wife.

The 31 year-old,who moved from Youngstown to Greenville, was convicted in 2003 of carrying a concealed weapon in Ohio. Briggs could face time behind bars if he is found guilty of drug charges and intimidating a witness.

Matt Mangino says witness intimidation often includes social media now, since criminals can reach people they typically don't interact with.

Mangino says this is a bizarre case. “How do you think you are somehow going to intimidate a police chief into not pursuing criminal charges against you?”

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