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University of Missouri police arrest suspect in social media death threats

Students walk outside the University of Missouri Student Center on Wednesday in Columbia. (Justin L. Stewart/Columbia Missourian via AP)

A 19-year-old white man was arrested Wednesday by University of Missouri police for posting threats to the racially roiled campus on social media, authorities said.

Hunter M. Park was taken into custody around 1:50 a.m. Wednesday, according to MU police. He has been charged with “making a terroristic threat,” Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Knight said in a news release, which was tweeted by a Columbia Daily Tribune reporter.

Police didn’t specify what the threats were, but the campus in Columbia was shaken Tuesday by anonymous threats directed toward students of color.

“I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see,” read one post on the anonymous message app Yik Yak.

[What is Yik Yak, the app that fielded racist threats at University of Missouri?]

“Some of you are alright,” began another post. “Don’t go to campus tomorrow.”

“We’re waiting for you at the parking lots,” read a third anonymous post. “We will kill you.”

Also on Wednesday, Northwest Missouri State University Police arrested freshman Connor Stottlemyre on suspicion of making threats on social media, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Stottlemyre allegedly took to Yik Yak Tuesday to post the message, “I’m gonna shoot any black people tomorrow, so be ready,” university spokesman Mark Hornickel told the newspaper.

University of Missouri police said they “contacted” Park in Rolla, Mo., a city about 94 miles from the Mizzou campus, according to a news release.

“University of Missouri Police have apprehended the suspect who posted threats to campus on YikYak and other social media,” an MU alert posted Wednesday morning stated. “The suspect is in MUPD custody and was not located on or near the MU campus at the time of the threat.”

Park is a sophomore at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, a school in Rolla that is within the UM system, spokeswoman Mary Helen Stoltz said. He is studying computer science at the school.

“Threats of violence of any kind are not tolerated,” Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader said in a statement. “As a campus, we are grateful that this situation did not escalate. I thank both of the police departments for their swift action in handling this case. As always, the safety of our students, faculty and staff is our utmost concern.”

According to Boone County Sheriff’s Department records, Park is from Lake St. Louis, a suburb of St. Louis. His initial arraignment was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, a Boone County Jail employee said. No attorney for Park was listed in jail records.

Yik Yak co-founder and COO Brooks Buffington posted a message about the threats Wednesday, writing that “this sort of misbehavior is NOT what Yik Yak is to be used for. Period.”

“It’s our hope that the range of discussion on MU’s campus can help to bring about positive resolution and a better understanding within the community,” Buffington’s message stated. “But there’s a point where discussion can go too far – and the threats that were posted on Yik Yak last night were both upsetting and completely unacceptable.”

Mizzou was operating at a “regular schedule” following Park’s arrest, according to the MU alert.

“Safety is the university’s top priority and we are working hard to assure that the campus remains safe while information is obtained and confirmed,” it stated.

But local reports indicated that the campus looked anything but normal Wednesday.

The threats — and Park’s arrest — followed the resignation of Tim Wolfe, who had served as president of the four-campus University of Missouri System. It was announced that R. Bowen Loftin would also step down as chancellor of the flagship campus in Columbia, where students have been calling attention to the treatment of minorities.

During the unrest, graduate student Jonathan Butler went on a hunger strike, and Missouri’s football team threatened to boycott.

[Mizzou Coach Gary Pinkel hopes team can prepare for BYU after this week’s ‘distractions’]

WATCH: Man on Mizzou campus: 'Take a walk to Africa' (Video: Twitter/Destiny Davis and K'Imani Davis)

You can read more about the most recent threats here.

Elahe Izadi contributed to this post, which was repeatedly updated, including one update to correct a detail about the announcement of Loftin’s move.

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