“I’m shooting up the school. Tomorrow. Stay in your rooms. The ones on the quad are the ones who will go first,” the note posted to Yik Yak said, according to a police report.
The post, published on Yik Yak early Sunday morning, was apparently deleted but not before students at the school alerted police about the threat. The school sent additional police officers to the campus, and an investigation eventually led detectives to Sakamoto.
When confronted by police, Sakamoto admitted to authoring the threats, Emory officials said. She was charged with terroristic threats.
“Emory University is committed to providing a safe environment for all community members and will take swift and appropriate action to maintain the security of the campus community,” the school’s dean, Stephen Bowen, said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate the fact that Oxford College students immediately called 911 and brought the post to the attention of the Emory Police Department.”
The threats came only days after a gunman went on a rampage at the Umpqua Community College near Roseburg, Ore., killing nine students in an English classroom.
Yik Yak is an app designed to allow students and residents near colleges to post messages anonymously. Often, users post jokes, notes about all-nighters or simply messages about the weather.
On several occasions, however, police and university officials have intervened following threatening posts that appear to target students, a facility or an entire campus. Last year, police arrested a student at the University of Central Oklahoma for posting a threat on Yik Yak indicating that he would “shoot up” the school. In a similar case in 2014, a Penn State University student claimed after he was arrested that his shooting threats against the campus — he wrote “I am going to kill everyone,” and referred to an AR-15 assault rifle — were a misunderstood “prank.”
At Mary Washington University in Virginia, a group of feminists said they were threatened on Yik Yak for their activisim; Yik Yak activity on that campus was probed after a member of a feminist group was slain there earlier this year.
A Drake University student was essentially banned from campus after posting on Yik Yak that “Columbine will look like child’s play compared to what I’m going to do,” according to the Des Moines Register. Police in Blacksburg arrested a senior at Virginia Tech after he posted a message referring to the April 16, 2007, massacre on campus that left 32 students and faculty members dead.
“Another 4.16 moment is going to happen tomorrow. Just a warning,” the message read.
The response from police after such threats often results in swift arrests and possible felony charges.
For Sakamoto, the Emory University student, her Yik Yak threat could carry a possible five-year prison sentence if she is convicted.