When virtual violence goes viral

Like any internet fad, participants can inject craziness into the craze by taking the trend too far. The "Mannequin Challenge" is the latest viral sensation where normally mobile people imitate mannequins in what seems to be a modern-day game of "Freeze Tag."

A recent challenge captured the attention of the internet community, specifically members of Alabama law enforcement.

The "still life" video filmed in Huntsville depicted a modern-day gunfight between 22 rural Alabama residents. A total of 19 pistols and shotguns were held stationary and pointed at targets who were equally and deliberately immobile.

All remained motionless to the strains of a soundtrack featuring rap music that replaced the standard "Black Beatles" by Rae Sremmurd.

How to lose a mannequin challenge

Curiosity over the video peaked with members of the Madison County Sheriff's office who wondered if those 19 guns had their proper licenses and permits. With the house caught on tape, police were able to identify the address and secured a search warrant for the property.

In the early morning hours of December 6, the sheriff's office and the City of Huntsville Police Department SWAT teams were joined by the ATF to execute the warrant. In the house, they found several of the weapons, multiple magazines, rounds of ammunition, and a tactical vest. Also discovered were several bags of marijuana packed for resale and related paraphernalia.

Both 49-year-old Kenneth Fennell White and 23-year-old Terry Brown were arrested on drugs and weapons crimes. More "mannequins" may face charges, including those who may be convicted felons. Police can only hope that they remain as still as they were.

The unique circumstances of any arrest require an experienced attorney customizing strategies in pursuit of the best possible outcome.

Source: The Washington Post, "22 heavily armed men post mannequin challenge on Facebook, much to delight of cops," Travis M. Andrews, Dec 7, 2016

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