The Washington Post

Guilty plea for U-Md. student who threatened shooting rampage

The former University of Maryland student who made online posts threatening a shooting rampage on campus pleaded guilty Tuesday to disturbing school operations and telephone misuse.

Dressed in a black suit and a solid blue tie, 19-year-old Alexander Song only answered District Court Judge Patrice E. Lewis’s questions with a “Yes, your honor,” or “No, your honor,” at the minutes long hearing. Lewis eventually took Song off home detention but ordered he continue receiving mental health care and abide by a 9 p.m. curfew while he awaits sentencing at a later date.

As part of his plea, Song admitted that he made multiple postings online in March threatening a shooting rampage at the University of Maryland, where he was then a student. In one posting, the he warned his classmates, “Don’t go around 1 o’clock to the mall,” Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Glynn said in court.

It remains unclear, though, just how serious the threats were, and just how capable Song was of carrying them out. Glynn said police found Song had no weapons after they searched his dorm room, his car and even his family’s home.

In court, Lewis and prosecutors seemed to treat Song as a teenager in need of mental healthcare rather than as a possible mass murderer. At one point, the judge told Song, “You look like you’re feeling much better than when I first saw you.” Cracking a slight smile, Song responded, “Yes, your honor. I am.”

Song’s next appearance in court is scheduled for Sept. 13. Lewis ordered the young man to check in once a week with a case worker until then and start working on 200 hours of community service — which prosecutors had requested as part of his sentence.

“So far, reports have been fine,” Lewis told Song. “You’ve been accountable.”

After the hearing, Song and his defense attorney, Steven Vinick, declined to comment.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.

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