COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ)—Troubling online threats of a shooting rampage at the University of Maryland. Just a short time ago, police wrapped up a news conference about the suspect.
Mike Hellgren reports from College Park with more on the student in custody and the online threats he is accused of making.
Police tell WJZ they didn’t immediately alert students because they didn’t want to tip off the suspect, fearing an immediate and dangerous reaction.
Police worked quickly to painstakingly track University of Maryland student Alexander Song before threats could become reality. From anonymous postings he made online, including “I will be on a shooting rampage tomorrow on campus. Hopefully I kill enough people to make it to national news. Stay away from the mall tomorrow at 1:30.”
Daniel Douglas’ friend immediately alerted police.
“He immediately was very scared and just knew that he had to bring something to the attention of the authorities,” said Douglas, whose friend reported Song to the police.
“We have no reason to believe that Mr. Song was acting in consort with anyone,” said Chief David Mitchell, University of Maryland Police. “He was acting alone.”
Authorities saw Song’s threats as no joke. They traced him through the Internet and then to campus.
“This was no easy feat,” Chief Mitchell said. “Surveillance was set up. When Mr. Song’s vehicle came back onto campus, it was followed not only through our extensive camera network but by our plainclothes officers as well. “
Song lives in Fulton, Md. WJZ was unsuccessful with reaching his family, but one neighbor told us she’s satisfied with how the school handled the incident.
Investigators found no weapons at his dorm or home. They did recover his laptop from his parents’ home in Howard County.
Song is currently undergoing a psychiatric evaluation. His roommate told authorities “he’s been stressed.”
Police say he told their officers the same thing one week ago after they responded to a disturbance at his dorm.
“There was nothing that led us to believe that he was a threat to himself or others,” Mitchell said.
“It’s scary. You hear about Virginia Tech and other schools around the country,” Caitlin Seppi, College Park student.
“It sounds like an isolated incident that’s already been taken care of. I think they definitely took the proper measures, so I didn’t feel any less safe walking through campus today,” said John Seligman, College Park student.
University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh released the following statement:
“The threats made by the student were investigated immediately with high priority. Our detectives were actively tracking the student’s whereabouts throughout the morning, and a public alert might have disrupted those efforts before they were able to take him into custody. The police are confident that any threat to our community was mitigated once the student was taken into custody at approximately 10 a.m. For both of these reasons, no campus alert was issued. As always, we are committed to maintaining clear and open communication with our campus community, subject to the sensitive nature of ongoing investigations and the professional judgment of our police department.”
Police say Song was distraught when they arrested him. He is charged with a misdemeanor, disturbing the order on campus. That carries a sentence of up to 6 months in jail and a $2,500 fine if convicted.
Police say they will be holding meetings at several dorms to answer any questions students have about the incident.