By Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times (TNS)
COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri police arrested a 19-year-old man about 100 miles from campus on suspicion of posting social media threats against black students, who were deeply disturbed by anonymous messages, including one that said, “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.”
University police said in a Wednesday morning statement that the suspect had posted threats to the anonymous posting service Yik Yak and other social media and was not situated on or near campus “at the time of the threat.”
Another message on Yik Yak said: “Some of you are alright. Don’t go to campus tomorrow.”
The suspect, Hunter Park, who is white and from Lake St. Louis, was arrested on suspicion of making terrorist threats and was being held on $4,500 bail, according to records from the Boone County jail.
University of Missouri police said in a statement that Park was arrested at 1:50 a.m. in Rolla, Mo., almost 100 miles southeast of Columbia. Police officials declined to release more details.
Black students were rattled by the threats, which came after a semester of mounting campus protests over racial issues that culminated with University System President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announcing their resignations Monday.
Loftin tweeted that the suspect used “multiple accounts” to threaten students.
Some professors canceled classes and some black students left campus out of fear for their safety late Tuesday night as students — including Missouri student body President Payton Head — also circulated incorrect social media reports that Ku Klux Klan members had gathered on campus.
University of Missouri police Maj. Brian Weimer told the Los Angeles Times late Tuesday night that the department had received no reports of Klan members on campus.
Students were also unsettled by a man shouting and cursing late Tuesday night at the speaker’s circle next to the university library. Weimer said the man walked away with a friend.
Someone placed a threatening phone call to the campus’s black culture center earlier in the day Tuesday, but the center was not evacuated, said Weimer, who added that university police were maintaining a heavier presence on campus than usual.
Some black students were still upset Wednesday morning after a night in which students urged each other to walk home in groups and offer students walking alone an escort home.
“How Mizzou responds to the threat on Black lives today will dictate the progress of the school for the next 10+ years,” graduate student Jonathan Butler, 25, who held a seven-day hunger strike to call for the system president’s removal, wrote on Twitter.
University of Missouri officials said in a statement on its alert service that the university was still operating under its usual schedule, adding, “Safety is the university’s top priority, and we are working hard to assure that the campus remains safe while information is obtained and confirmed.”
Photo: Hunter Park is pictured in this undated booking photo provided by Boone County Sheriff’s Department in Missouri. Park, was in custody on November 11, 2015, for making online threats to shoot black students at the University of Missouri following racial protests that prompted the school’s president and chancellor to step down this week, campus police said. REUTERS/Boone County Sheriff’s Department/Handout via Reuters