UMD. stu­dent ar­rested, hos­pi­tal­ized af­ter threat­en­ing a ‘shoot­ing ram­page’

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY AN­DREA NO­BLE

Au­thor­i­ties say a stu­dent’s threat to go on a “shoot­ing ram­page” at the Univer­sity of Mary­land Col­lege Park was cred­i­ble, although searches of the stu­dent’s dorm room and his fam­ily’s home have not turned up any weapons.

Alexan­der Song, a 19year-old sopho­more at the school, was taken into cus­tody Sun­day morn­ing and com­mit­ted to a lo­cal hospi­tal for an emer­gency psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion af­ter cam­pus po­lice traced sev­eral threat­en­ing on­line mes­sages back to him.

“He ba­si­cally said, ‘I’m think­ing about killing peo­ple on cam­pus at the Univer­sity of Mary­land.’ We ac­cepted that at face value,” cam­pus po­lice Chief David Mitchell said at a news con­fer­ence at the school Mon­day. “He said by his own ad­mis­sion he wasn’t kid­ding.”

Three peo­ple, in­clud­ing an In­ter­net user in Mon­tana and a for­mer univer­sity po­lice aide, for­warded mes­sages they re­ceived Satur­day from Mr. Song to cam­pus po­lice for in­ves­ti­ga­tion, po­lice said. In mes­sages posted on the so­cial me­dia web­sites Red­dit.com and Omegle.com that were for­warded, po­lice said Mr. Song warned peo­ple to avoid Mck­eldin Mall, an ex­pan­sive court­yard on cam­pus, and said he hoped he could “kill enough peo­ple to make it to na­tional news.”

As Mr. Song was taken into po­lice cus­tody Sun­day morn­ing, Chief Mitchell said he was “very emo­tion­ally dis­traught, shak­ing and cry­ing” and “in need of psy­chi­atric help.” He com­plained of be­ing “very stressed out” both at the time of his ar­rest and a week ear­lier when po­lice stopped him on cam­pus for yelling and mak­ing noise, the chief said.

Au­thor­i­ties searched both Mr. Song’s on­cam­pus dorm room and his par­ents’ home in Ful­ton, Md., but said no weapons were found.

Those who know Mr. Song were sur­prised by the in­ci­dent.

A teacher who su­per­vised an honors stu­dent re­search project in which Mr. Song par­tic­i­pated de­scribed him as “one of the nicer peo­ple you would want to meet.”

“The other stu­dents in a tal­ented group seemed to look up to him. I saw him last Fri­day in class, and he seemed nor­mal, other than be­ing qui­eter than nor­mal,” said Steven Hutch­e­son, a pro­fes­sor of mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy who taught Mr. Song.

A stu­dent who worked with Mr. Song on

the re­search project said he was typ­i­cally “a pretty nice guy” but had a habit of try­ing to get a re­ac­tion out of peo­ple through on­line com­ments.

“I don’t be­lieve he was ac­tu­ally se­ri­ous about that,” said 18-year-old sopho­more Ja­son Al­banese, who has known Mr. Song for more than a year. “It was prob­a­bly him be­ing re­ally stupid.”

Mr. Song, who lives in an on-cam­pus res­i­dence hall, will be charged with the misdemeanor of­fense of dis­turb­ing the or­derly con­duct of the ac­tiv­i­ties, ad­min­is­tra­tion or classes of the univer­sity. The of­fense is pun­ish­able by up to a $2,500 fine and six months in jail. Chief Mitchell said no ad­di­tional charges are ex­pected to be filed.

School of­fi­cials have tem­po­rar­ily banned Mr. Song from the Col­lege Park cam­pus. Af­ter Mr. Song is re­leased from the hospi­tal, where he re­mained un­der eval­u­a­tion Mon­day, of­fi­cials will re­view the in­ci­dent to de­ter­mine whether he will be al­lowed back on cam­pus, Chief Mitchell said.

Univer­sity Pres­i­dent Wal­lace D. Loh in a state­ment thanked the peo­ple who re­ported the mes­sages to cam­pus po­lice.

“Their re­port­ing to the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties en­sured a swift and thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion that led to the safe res­o­lu­tion of this sit­u­a­tion,” Mr. Loh said.

Both Mr. Loh and Chief Mitchell de­fended the univer­sity’s decision not to send out a cam­pus alert re­gard­ing Mr. Song’s on­line mes­sages, say­ing that po­lice were track­ing Mr. Song’s move­ments on cam­pus and if an alert was is­sued be­fore he was in cus­tody that could have dis­rupted those ef­forts.

Stu­dents who live in Oak­land Hall, the same dorm as Mr. Song, expressed re­lief Mon­day that ac­tion had been taken quickly re­gard­ing the on­line threats.

“My ini­tial re­ac­tion was that is was a joke, but then I saw he had been ar­rested,” 20-year-old ju­nior Jes­sica Hav­i­land said. “I’m re­ally glad the univer­sity sus­pended him from cam­pus so he can’t come back.”

Song, 19

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