Dec 12, 2019

Fresno State student suspended after social media threat to shoot female students

Editor’s note: The Collegian does not name the suspect(s) in mass shootings or the threat of one.

A Fresno State football player was arrested by the Fresno State Police Department on Monday after admitting to threatening to shoot female students on campus via a social media app.

The student was a freshman walk-on wide receiver and has been dismissed from the team.

Police found the student by working with Yik Yak to track the student’s phone number, Fresno State Police Chief David Huerta said.

The suspect was booked into the Fresno County Jail Monday night for making criminal threats and was released on $20,000 bail, according to jail records.

The student faces state and possibly federal charges, Huerta said.

The FBI is involved in the investigation, but Huerta said that the focus is currently on the state charges.

Huerta said that a criminal complaint will be filed to the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday morning.

“This is a state matter at our level right now,” Huerta said. “We would desire to work with the District Attorney’s Office first and hopefully everything would be resolved at that level.”

“It serves us no purpose to file with the DA and the federal government at the same time. It just doesn’t work like that.”

Police searched the student’s apartment with his consent and found no weapons.

Instructions were given to university employees that it was to be business as usual on Monday, but many people opted to leave campus and others canceled classes.

The Henry Madden Library was pictured in the post that contained the threat, which specified that the attack was to occur at 3 p.m.

Huerta said that the university learned of the threat between 11:50 a.m. and noon from people who saw the post on social media.

The chief said the Bulldog Alert system sent alerts to 25,191 contacts in a period from 1:37 to 2:28 p.m. Monday. Almost 29,000 contacts were reached through Fresno State email at approximately the same time period, Huerta said.

Huerta credited those people for allowing the university to quickly make a decision on the threat.

“Had it not been for them,” Huerta said, “Maybe it might have been a half hour later that we got the information. Well, that half hour, we may have been forced to make a decision to vacate the campus. You can credit the administration, the school and law enforcement, but the people that all said something to get this going should be credited with some of the goodness that came out of it.”

The police chief added that the situation could’ve been much worse.

“We could have had car accidents everywhere,” Huerta said. “We could have people getting run over. We could have a lot, a lot of bad things occur. Now this is like yelling fire in a movie theater. It doesn’t get much worse than to do this, other than for it to actually happen.”

Frank Lamas, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, said the suspect is under interim suspension at this point.

During the suspension, the student isn’t allowed on campus to visit and he is not allowed to come to any activities or be a part of anything during the suspension, Lamas said.

Huerta said that the student is currently in Los Angeles and that he would face arrest if he tried to come back onto campus.

Lamas said that the university can only do so much to prevent the suspect from returning to campus.

“The university can interimly suspend a student, but obviously we have no walls around the campus. There’s no way to 100 percent monitor these situations here or any campus around the United States,” Lamas said.

“Anytime that we have a health, welfare or safety issue, we certainly want to not only be sensitive to the campus and all the things that happened here, but also the family and try to help. He was one of our students and we do care about him. We feel he’s made some poor choices, but certainly we want to do everything we can to be sensitive to this situation.”

Lamas said that the student has the next 10 days to request a hearing run by Dr. Carolyn Coon, the associate vice president for student affairs and enrollment management and dean of students.

The hearing will be set after they receive contact from the student. The hearing allows the opportunity for due process and for the student to give his side of the story.

Lamas said that the conduct office will then make a decision whether to continue the suspension and make it worse or lighter.

The Fresno State Athletics Department released a statement that said:

“Up until this incident we had no negative dealings with him on or off the field. When we were alerted of this yesterday, we took the threat seriously. We worked with the Fresno State Police Department to contact [the suspect]. As a result of [his] actions, he has immediately been dismissed from our football program,” Fresno State Football Coach Tim DeRuyter said.

Lamas said that bad choices were made by the student and hope people learn from their bad choices. He said that this student’s conduct doesn’t reflect the conduct of the rest of the 24,000 students at the university.

Lamas added that it served as a real wake up call for people who think making threats are funny and “that they will never be taken as funny and that we will follow up and we will deal with the situations and that there can be very serious consequences to it.”

Fresno State sent an email on Tuesday which stopped short of docking the pay of staff members who left campus.

“… non-exempt employees who left campus in advance of their normal work hours will be allowed to ‘make up’ any lost work time over the remaining work days in November. Lost work time may be ‘made up’ by taking a 30-minute lunch hour or arriving at work early or leaving work late.”

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