When Lumberton, New Jersey, mom Koeberle Bull logged into Facebook one morning, a racist screed confronted her. And after she got the authorities involved, they came to believe that a Kentucky man might have had an evil plan.
Bull is a mom of three kids and has been a single parent for more than six years. Her husband passed in May of 2012 after suffering a fatal heart attack. And when you see the Bull family together, you quickly realize there’s something quite striking about them.
That’s because although Bull is white, her three kids are not. Daughters Olivia and Sophia and son Isaiah are all black. And one man found this fact so hard to stomach that he unleashed a social media tirade on Bull and her family.
One morning in October of 2018, Bull logged into Facebook to be confronted by something shocking. A Kentucky man had sent her a message whose content alarmed her. And as soon as she’d read it, Bull knew she had to take action.
The Facebook screed was filled with racist abuse. “It was really vulgar – he called my kids the N-word and hoped terrible things for them,” Bull told Yahoo! Lifestyle in October 2018. However, the hate speech didn’t stop there.
Unfortunately, there was more. “[He was] basically repeating himself about hoping my children would die and be hung because they’re black,” Bull told WKYT. And there could be no doubt about the racial aspect of the message, as the man called Bull’s kids “your monkey children.”
Bull didn’t know the man whom the message seemed to be from, so she checked out his social-media profile. Concerned at what she saw, Bull got in touch with the local police. Something made her worry that this on its own might not be enough, though. As a result, she grabbed a screenshot to share with her friends.
However, the man Bull believed had written the disturbing diatribe then blocked her, meaning she wasn’t able to find out anything more about him. Her friends could still visit his account, though, so they quickly unearthed more details. And it turned out that he wasn’t local at all.
It appeared, in fact, that the message had come from a man living in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Since this is a town nearly 700 miles away from Lumberton, it raised the question of how he had come across Bull’s Facebook account.
Bull now followed her “gut feeling” that she ought to contact police in Lawrenceburg. Eventually, she was put in touch with Officer Josh Satterly. He treated her report as a serious matter, she told Yahoo, saying to her, “There’s no room for this kind of hate in my world.”
Indeed, Kentucky police did take Bull’s concerns very seriously, going to the residence of the individual they believed was responsible for the abusive message. It happened that as they turned up, the man in question, Dylan Jarrell, 20, was on his way out. And police claim that he was planning something much worse than sending racist Facebook messages.
Police commissioner Rick Sanders told a press conference that Jarrell had been apprehended with “a detailed plan of attack.” Sanders alleged that the young man had been on his way to a couple of local school districts with murder on his mind. The police claimed that Jarrell had with him hundreds of bullets and a gun to fire them with. Perhaps even more chillingly, the authorities said that they’d found evidence that Jarrell had carried out internet research into committing a school shooting.
Commissioner Sanders believed that the tip-off from Bull had resulted in lives being saved. “This young man had it in mind to go to schools and create havoc.” Sanders told the press conference. “He had the tools necessary, the intent necessary.”
As it turned out, this apparently wasn’t Jarrell’s first brush with the law. Police said that the FBI had previously spoken to him about menacing statements made to a school in Tennessee on social media. This time, he faced terror-related charges because of the message and was placed in county jail.
And the trooper whom Bull had given the tip-off to, Officer Satterly, assured her that he too believed that her intervention had been crucial. According to the Courier-Post, he told Bull, “If you hadn’t made that phone call, things would have ended up a lot different.”
Bull, however, didn’t seem to think she had done anything special. Indeed, she told WKYT, “I would hope that someone would, in the same situation, just do the same thing. Because, obviously, you never know.”
Nevertheless, Bull’s actions did inspire some, including TV host Ellen DeGeneres. She subsequently invited Bull and her family onto the show. This proved very welcome to the Bulls, who momma Bull confirmed are “huge fans” of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The fandom went both ways, though, as DeGeneres repeated something one of her crew had said. “This is social media gone right,” the host confirmed. And, in gratitude for Bull’s efforts, she had a special surprise for her family.
It turned out that DeGeneres wanted to say thank you to Bull in an extravagant way. So the kindhearted TV star had decided – not for the first time – to treat guests to a special trip. On this occasion, the Bull family would enjoy a week on holiday in Fiji.
Just before Bull appeared on DeGeneres’ show, 11 people lost their lives when a gunman opened fire in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. And DeGeneres was not slow to note how important Bull’s actions might have been. She said, “In times like these, people like my next guest give me hope.” Certainly, she seemed to have no doubt that Bull had prevented another mass shooting.