By Nigel Boys
Following the resignation of Tim Wolfe this week, president of the University of Missouri, after weeks of racial protest, a man has been arrested for posting on social media that he intended to kill African-American students on campus.
Eurweb reports that 19-year-old Hunter M. Park, who is reportedly not a student at the campus in Columbia, was arrested on Wednesday by police for allegedly making what has been described as “terrorist threats” on social media, including Yik Yak.
Park is reportedly from Rolla, Missouri, about 95 miles south of the university campus and police believe in a post tagged “Columbia” on Yik Yak on Tuesday, he wrote: “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.”
The messages reportedly appeared just 24 hours after Wolfe stepped down amid widespread protest, including a hunger strike by one student and several groups staging sit-ins on campus, according to the Daily Mail.
Although initial reports stated that while Park has not been formally charged, he is being held on bond of $4,500, a later report states that his bond has been denied.
Yahoo News reports that partly because Park said that he expressed a “deep interest” in a recent Oregon school massacre, during a court appearance in Boone County Circuit Court on Thursday, his bond was denied.
Even after the arrest of Park on Wednesday at around 1:50 a.m., some students at the university still felt threatened as the anonymous messages appeared on social media. They reportedly left the university ground in fear for their own safety.
Hilary McQuaide, spokeswoman for the anonymous social media application, Yik Yak, which allows users to create and view posts within a five-mile radius, said Park had been identified by the company while working together with the police. She added that the company allows such cooperation “when a post poses a risk of imminent harm.”
It is thought that Park’s alleged post, stating that he would “stand his ground” is in reference to Missouri’s gun laws, which state people are not required to retreat before resorting to deadly force while defending their property, school or office.
Another threatening message also appeared on social media, suggesting that since some blacks were not so bad, they should stay at home. “Some of you are alright,” read the post, adding, “don’t go to campus tomorrow.” The quote is believed to have originated with the Oregon shooter, Chris Harper-Mercer, according to Dustin Heckmaster, a University of Missouri officer.
Although the racial tension at the university has been boiling for some time, it reportedly came to a head a few weeks ago when a swastika was drawn on the wall of one of the residential halls, allegedly in feces. Protests began when Wolfe apparently did nothing about this or to address other racial issues raised by students.
“University of Missouri Police have apprehended the suspect who posted threats to campus on Yik Yak and other social media,” a spokesman for the university said. He added, “The suspect is in custody and was not located on or near the MU campus at the time of the threat.”
Police said that Park was arrested on Wednesday in his dormitory room in Rolla on the campus of the Missouri University of Science and Technology where he is a sophomore studying computer science. Court documents state that during his arrest, Park acknowledged that the threats were “inappropriate,” according to Yahoo News.
During a bail hearing on Thursday, where Park appeared via video conference from jail, no plea was entered on his behalf by his attorney, Jeffrey Hilbrenner. However, arguing that his client was not a danger to the community, Hillbrenner asked for a $10,000 bond, home detention and restricted use of technology.
“The investigation does not show that he had the capability or the mechanism to carry out the threat,” Hilbrenner said of Park, but after the prosecution argued that Park’s was indeed a threat to the community, Judge Kimberly Shaw denied the defense request. Hilbrenner also said that Park had medical issues that were exacerbated by his stay in jail, but did not further enlighten as to what those issues were.
According to the Missouri General Assembly website, Park faces up to seven years in prison if he is convicted.