Football mad fan arrested for bomb threats

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 31, 2012 5:03 PM
Football mad fan arrested for bomb threats

By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - A Michigan man has discovered that taking football too seriously can have heavy consequences.

Shawn Payton, of Jackson, Michigan, was arrested on Monday and charged with phoning bomb threats to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on January 7, when about 70,000 people were watching the New Orleans Saints pummel the Detroit Lions in an NFL playoff game.

Lions fan Payton, 34 - not to be confused with Saints head coach Sean Payton - was watching the game on television from his home when the lopsided second half of the game became too much for him.

He called the Superdome and told a receptionist that there was a bomb in the stadium, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office in New Orleans. A second call came in about 45 minutes later, Letten's statement said.

The FBI later obtained a recording of the call from the Superdome Information Technology Department in which a male caller stated: "Hi, I want you to relay a message to the sideline, if your stupid Southern team keeps winning, there will be reper ... severe consequences, okay?"

The Saints went on to beat the Lions 45-28.

The FBI was able to track the calls to Payton, who made his initial appearance before a federal magistrate in Detroit on Monday. He was released on bond and ordered to appear in federal court in New Orleans on February 14.

A phone number for Payton was not working on Tuesday.

If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

(Reporting By Kathy Finn; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan)