University of Missouri Police Department apprehend suspect in Yik Yak threats

By Abigale Svoboda

The University of Missouri Police Department apprehended a suspect early Wednesday morning in a string of Yik Yak threats made against students at the school’s Columbia campus, according to a 
press release from MU Alert.

Matt Pearce, of The Los Angeles Times, reported around 9:00 a.m. that Hunter Michael Park, 19, of Lake St. Louis, was arrested on suspicion of making a terroristic threat. Pearce reported Parker’s bail is set at $4,500.

The release stated the suspect was not on or near the campus when the threats were posted. The Columbia Missourian tweeted a statement from the MUPD, confirming Park was not in the area.

The threats, posted around 7 p.m. Tuesday, were made in four separate Yik Yak posts. All alluding to harming students on the university’s campus Wednesday; one specifically threatened to shoot black students.

Late Tuesday night, students pushed for classes to be canceled Wednesday but the campus is operating on a regular schedule, the release stated.

Elizabeth Loutfi, editor-in-chief of the 
Maneater, tweeted a screenshot of an email from the Missouri Students Association around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. The email urged administrators to cancel classes Wednesday for the sake of students.

“Due to the threats on campus we must remain vigilant to protect students first and foremost,” the email reads. “There is absolutely no reason to keep classes in session…”

If the administration chose not to cancel class, the MSA stated it would tell students to stay home and that all classwork can be made up at a later date.

Soon after the threats were originally posted, soon-to-be-former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and the Missouri Students Association tweeted that campus police were contacted.

At 7:44 p.m. MU Alert, the school’s campus alert system, informed students that campus security was increased due to the threats. A tweet from MU Alert warned students not to spread rumors, noting the university system was the only reliable source on updates about the threats.

The Maneater, Missouri’s student newspaper, reported that Residential Life Director Frankie Minor announced the threats during a student government joint session, then left the meeting. Following Minor’s announcement, attendees voted to end the meeting and were escorted from the hall by campus police.

The Maneater also reported that someone began yelling about freedom of the press in Speakers Circle — an open area, formally known as Conley Plaza, outside of Ellis Library. The space is regarded by Mizzou, the university’s alumni association magazine, as “MU’s epicenter of free speech.”

The Missouri University Police Department did not believe the outburst to be related to the threats, the Maneater reported.

University residence halls were reportedly put on yellow-level security, however some campus events continued, according to Katherine Knott, Maneater managing editor, and Marilyn Haigh, Maneater reporter.

Some sororities were also put on lockdown, said Maneater assistant sports editor Alec Lewis. The Mizzou Democrats Twitter account offered students uncomfortable with staying in their own home a place to stay.

The MUPD began investigating the posts Tuesday night — Yik Yak posts cannot be investigated without a permit. According to the MUPD update, the police will continue to investigate.

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