Suspect arrested over social media threats at U. of Missouri – USA TODAY
Campus policeÂ have arrested aÂ suspect who allegedly posted racial threats to the University of Missouri campus onÂ social media, the university said Wednesday.
The suspect is in police custody and was not located at or near the campus at the time of the threat, the university said on its website.
Threats of violence toward black students hadÂ raised concerns Tuesday night, as the school remained tense following the the toppling of the school’s leadership over racist campus incidents.
Someone using the anonymous social media app Yik Yak wrote they would shoot every black person they see Wednesday. Others tweeting from the university’s Columbia, Mo., campus said people used racial epithets as they drove around campus, and a group of men walking with bandannas covering their faces yelled racial slurs at black students.
MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said on Twitter that the suspect had used “multiple accounts” to threaten students.Â “He was never physically near the campus,” the chancellor said.
Shortly after the arrest was announced,Â Loftin tweeted that class wouldÂ continue as usual on Wednesday “with increased security.”
A threat forced the evacuation Tuesday night of the university’s culture center where members of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus was meeting with students, Rep. Brandon Ellington, a Democrat from Kansas City, said in a news release, according to the Columiba Daily Tribune. The caucus met with Loftin and student members of an activist group that has led campus protests against racial inequality.
In addition to the threats on social media, the Black Culture Center received a call that Tuesday night thatÂ was perceived as a threat, according to Maj. Brian Weimer, with the university police, KRCG TV reports.Â TheÂ doors to the centerÂ were locked as a precaution, the station reports. It was not immediately clear whether the phoned threat was linked to the arrest of a suspect in the social media posts.
David Kurpius, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, noted in a CNN interview that Yik Yak has been buzzing since Monday’s resignations with people “who are being very hurtful and we’re hearing a lot of people from the fringe that does not help the conversation go well.”
The student body was sent a mass email on Tuesday, asking students to report “hateful/and or hurtful speech” to campus police.
“Delays, including posting information to social media, can often reduce the chances of identifying the responsible parties,” the e-mail said. “While cases of hateful and hurtful speech are not crimes, if the individual(s) identified are students, MU’s Office of Student Conduct can take disciplinary action.”
Freelance photo journalist Bradley J. Rayford, who has covered unrest in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore, Md., tweeted “Black students at #Mizzou are leaving campus right now due to threats received via social media.” He added that Some students said they didn’t feel safe because of threats on social media and may not come to campus tomorrow.
Some students on Twitter called on the university to cancel classes and issue an alert based on the threats and students’ anxiety.
Early Wednesday morning, the university sent out a message saying there was no immediate threat to campus.