University of Maryland sophomore Alexander Song, 19, was arrested on Sunday and charged with posting an Internet threat after saying he planned to go on a shooting rampage on campus, in hopes of killing as many people as possible. Song had made these claims on Reddit.
Campus police quoted Song as saying, “I will be on a shooting rampage tomorrow on campus – Hopefully I kill enough people to make it to national news.” Song’s message also warned that people should “stay away from the mall.”
Capt. Marc Limansky said police were informed of the threats on Reddit after a former Maryland student saw the posts, and that two more people called the university after chatting with Song on Omegle.com. Song, who was not armed when arrested, faces a misdemeanor charge of disturbing school activities. He was brought to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after being taken into custody.
University of Maryland police chief David Mitchell added that Song was “emotionally distraught to the point of shaking and crying,” and that no weapons were found in his dorm room.
After the incident, some students had complained that the school’s emergency alert system was never activated. University President Wallace Loh responded to these concerns in a statement on Monday, saying that law enforcement officials thought a campus-wide alert would interfere with their investigation, likely by potentially tipping Song off that they were monitoring him. Loh added, “the police are confident that any threat to our community was mitigated once the student was taken into custody.”
Though it is evident that Song may have just been making idle threats on Reddit, this isn’t the first time the social news website possibly had a hand in saving a life. A Reddit user with a mystery illness once diagnosed himself with Cushing’s Syndrome after reading a post on the site.