An Iowa man will go to prison for the next 20 years after he attempted to hijack an Internet domain at gunpoint, tased and shot the victim, and got shot back himself.
The man who attempted the domain “robbery” is 43-year-old Sherman Hopkins Jr., from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The victim is Ethan Deyo, 26, also from Cedar Rapids, a former GoDaddy engineer, and the owner of doitforstate.com, the domain at the heart of this event.
How the hijacking attempt unfolded
According to court documents, on June 21, 2017, Hopkins forcibly entered Deyo’s home wearing a hat, pantyhose on his head, and dark sunglasses on his face.
Hopkins grabbed the victim by the arm and demanded to know where he kept his computer. When the victim told Hopkins that he kept his computer in his home office, Hopkins forcibly moved the victim to the office.
Hopkins ordered the victim to turn on his computer and connect to the Internet. Hopkins pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket, which contained a series of directions on how to change an Internet domain name from one GoDaddy account to another GoDaddy account. Hopkins put the firearm against the victim’s head and ordered him to follow the directions on the piece of paper. Hopkins also took the victim’s cell phone and threw it so that he could not call for help.
Things got out of control when Deyo asked Hopkins for an email address and telephone number for the domain’s new ownership.
Instead of providing the required data, Hopkins pistol whipped Deyo several times over the head, while also pulling out a taser and tasing Deyo multiple times on his arm, neck, and back.
It is unclear why Hopkins escalated the event, but things really got out of control moments later when he cocked his gun, readying to fire.
Victim takes control of gun and shoots assailant
Deyo realized the danger he was in and turned his body to grab and move the gun from his head. In the struggle that followed, Hopkins shot Deyo in the leg, but the latter managed to get hold of the pistol and shoot Hopkins several times in the chest, before contacting local law enforcement.
Hopkins was charged a month later, and he pleaded guilty in December last year, taking a 240-month prison sentence as part of a guilty plea to one count of interference and attempted interference with commerce by threats and violence.
Before sentencing, Hopkins wife and mother of two children argued that Hopkins’ long history of substance abuse played a role in his actions, but the judged followed with the agreed-upon sentence.
Domain owner was in for a fortune
Court documents do not reveal why the suspect wanted the domain, if he wanted it for himself, or was hired by another person to obtain the domain’s ownership.
The doitforstate.com domain is a direct reference to the phrase “Do It For State,” an Internet meme and popular hashtag that became popular on the Iowa State University campus last year.
The phrase was often used as a hashtag or spoken phrase by students who would post videos of themselves or their friends carrying out dares, stupid stunts, or nude pictures online.
The frat-spawned phrase quickly became popular all across the US and is still an active hashtag with countless new postings on social networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat.
The owner of this domain had the possibility of cashing in on the phrase and hashtag’s growing popularity.
The original domain was active prior to the phrase becoming popular, being registered on January 8, 2015. According to the Wayback Machine, the domain hosted a college-centric blog for years before it was taken down after the at gunpoint hijacking attempt.