A Georgetown University student who was charged Friday with possessing the biological toxin ricin made aggressive comments online toward another student earlier this year, according to a recent Georgetown graduate who said she alerted the school’s administration to the messages and believed the second student might be in danger.
Daniel Milzman, 19, is facing federal charges for allegedly making the deadly toxin and keeping it in his dorm room, according to court papers. Federal authorities did not indicate why he made the ricin, but the graduate’s comments show that there were efforts to have the university look into his behavior weeks before he was taken into custody last week.
Milzman’s friends said immediately after his arrest that the Walt Whitman High School graduate has a “good heart and a good conscience,” and those who know him said they couldn’t understand why he would have ricin in his possession.
The recent Georgetown graduate said she was alarmed when she found messages that Milzman had apparently posted on Facebook attacking another Georgetown student. The messages, which the graduate saved as images and sent to the university’s Office of Student Conduct on Jan. 29, call the male student a “useless waste of space” and suggest that Milzman would be happy if the other student killed himself.
The graduate, who is 23, spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity because of fears of retribution. The graduate, who does not know Milzman, served as an orientation adviser to the other student and was concerned about the bullying nature of the comments when that student made them public on Facebook. She forwarded them to the university with a note requesting that the school take action. The student who was threatened, contacted Saturday, declined to comment.
The public post seemed to be “kind of a plea that [Milzman] was in fact bullying him,” the graduate said. Milzman “appeared to be a serious threat to the other student,” she said.
She said she never received a response from the school’s Office of Student Conduct. Stacy Kerr, a Georgetown spokeswoman, said Saturday that she could not comment on the ongoing investigation.
Danny Onorato, Milzman’s attorney, declined to comment Saturday, and Milzman’s family members did not return calls seeking comment.
Thomas Lloyd, a friend of Milzman’s who alerted authorities to the ricin after Milzman confided that he had the toxin in his room, said Saturday that he believed that the university’s Office of Student Conduct got involved after it was told of Milzman’s online comments.
Lloyd confirmed what he told a campus news organization last week, that Milzman “may have indicated he intended to use the substance on another student.” In an interview Saturday, Lloyd said that the conversation was “ambiguous” about whether or not Milzman would use the poison on another person and “there was certainly no mention of a specific person.”
Court documents say that Milzman had the white powder in his room for about a month, dating to sometime in February. He told authorities he made the ricin using materials he procured at local stores, according to the charging documents. More than 120 milligrams of the poison — a potentially lethal amount — was found in Milzman’s dorm room in McCarthy Hall, the documents say.
Investigators evacuated the dorm and combed through Milzman’s room after receiving the report from a residential adviser. Lloyd said that while he is an RA, he is not Milzman’s adviser.
“It wasn’t sort of this professional conversation, it was a much more personal conversation,” he said.
A spokesman for the FBI’s Washington Field Office said last week that investigators don’t believe that the case has any tie to terrorism and declined to discuss Milzman’s motivation for possessing the toxin.
Milzman appeared in U.S. District Court in the District on Friday afternoon. He was ordered held pending a detention hearing scheduled for Tuesday.