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Threatening Note

My 12 year old son recently became jealous of a friend who was being accepted by the 'in-crowd', who had several girls interested in him, and who seemed to be spending less time with my son.
While one would expect these social difficulties with Grade 6 children, my son's reaction to the situation has upset me greatly. He wrote his friend a note saying "You're dead *******". He just confessed this to me, although I have discovered the friend's family knew about it for some time. That would explain the recent distancing from the friendship that my son's friend has been doing. My son is smaller than every kid in the class, tends to be a target for bullies, and now he has bullied his closest friend. Of which he has precious few. He's remorseful and filled with self-hatred and self pity right now. I've been calm about the situation, but have placed a phone call to the parent of the boy who received the note. We are/were on a friendly basis. I'm hoping to hear back as I was required to leave a message. To my knowledge, this is an isolated incident. On my son's past report card the teacher indicated he was a role model for the class. How do I handle this? And most importantly, how do I help my son regain confidence and self-esteem. Oh - to make it even worse, it's their end of school award ceremony tonight. He's unsure if he'll go. Turns out his friend's parents have rented a son, rightfully so, has not been invited to cruise with the kids. Up to this point he and his friend have been very close,including time spent at each others homes on a regular basis. Help.