Landrum men arrested for threats using emojis

Published 7:46 pm Thursday, June 4, 2015

David Fuentes, 29, of 257 Stones Throw Dr., Landrum, S.C. and Matthew Cowan, 29, of 508 S. Bomar Ave., Landrum were arrested Monday, June 1 for sending threatening messages to another man through the social media website Facebook.

Their choice of words, or lack thereof, were a fist and a hand pointing to a cartoon ambulance.

The emoji filled messages, coupled with previous incidents, were enough for the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office to arrest Cowan and Fuentes on stalking charges. They face up to five years in prison if convicted.

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Emoji, or emoticons, are small digital images used to express ideas and emotions through mediums such as text messaging.

The first emoticons were documented in 1982 as a way to prevent confusion that could be caused by sarcasm in text-based conversation on message boards. They have since become part of everyday social interaction, with over 500 images stemming from the basic smiley face.

Arrests such as these are part of a growing trend nationwide as social media becomes increasingly important in law enforcement’s investigations, according to Lt. Kevin Bobo of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.

“Parents need to educate themselves on the symbols their kids are using and also monitor that use,” urged Bobo.