A University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) student was arrested, March 11, after allegedly making various threats on the Internet to shoot students in a common area on campus. The student, 19-year-old Alexander Song, was apprehended by police after several calls were made to notify them of the comments on sites such as the UMD section of Reddit.com.
“We were notified at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night and we took him into custody about 10 a.m. on Sunday,” said Capt. Marc Limansky, commenting on the quick reaction time of the university police department.
University police had Song under surveillance after taking immediate action to identify the computer that was the source of the comments. An alumni and former university police student aid first spotted the posts and alerted authorities. Officials had to wait for Song to come back onto campus before taking him into custody for the threats.
According to the University of Maryland Department of Safety, the posts included the statements “I will be on a shooting rampage tomorrow on campus,” and “hopefully I kill enough people to make it to national news.” Some of the comments also showed up on Omegle.com, where Song was apparently unmoved by other users’ threats to call police, taunting them with the fact that he hadn’t disclosed the school name and posts on that website are anonymous.
The comments were so suspicious that concerned citizens as far away as Montana called into the university police station to notify them of the possible threat. “Without the help of the public this could have gone unnoticed,” said Capt. Limansky. “The world wide web is huge, and there’s no way to be able see everything all the time.
We are very grateful to those individuals who came forward with information.” Song has officially been charged with “disturbing the orderly conduct of the activities, administration or classes of UMCP,” said the University of Maryland, Department of Public Safety in an official statement. The charge is considered a misdemeanor crime and carries a possible fine up to $2500 and/or a maximum of half a year in jail. This was the second time police had to respond to a situation surrounding Song.
A little over a week ago he told police that he was “stressed out” when they responded to calls reporting shouting in a dormitory room. It is not known whether or not Song had actually planned to carry out his threats or not, but he is currently suspended from the university and was ordered to undergo emergency psychiatric evaluation. No guns or weapons were found on Song, in his dorm room or at the home of his parents.
Song is a native of Fulton, Md. and was an honors student at UMCP where he is in his sophomore year of studies. Members of the science and technology research program Song was a part of, as well as the UMCP community as a whole, are stunned by the alleged plot.