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Man charged in Mizzou Yik Yak threats had interest in Oregon college shootings, police say

Hunter Park (Photo courtesy of Boone County Sheriff’s Department)

A 19-year-old man accused of posting social media threats to the University of Missouri campus said he had a “deep interest” in earlier messages that appeared to reference a mass shooting at an Oregon community college, according to court documents.

Hunter Park made a court appearance via video feed Thursday, one day after he was charged with making a terroristic threat in connection to the messages he allegedly posted on the app Yik Yak.

University of Missouri police were flooded with calls after the posts appeared on Yik Yak earlier this week, according to the probable cause statement for Park’s case, which was obtained by the Columbia Missourian and posted online.

Among the postings Park made was one that read: “Some of you are alright. Don’t go to campus tomorrow.”

That drew the attention of MU police officer Dustin Heckmaster, who noted that a social media post with similar phrasing circulated after the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. (That 4chan post was reportedly investigated but appears to not be connected with the UCC gunman, Chris Harper Mercer, who died at the end of the attack.)

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

“At the time of the Yik Yak postings it was unknown if the anonymous poster was planning a copycat school shooting,” reads the probable cause statement in Park’s case.

Investigators made contact with Park at Missouri University of Science and Technology, a school in Rolla, Mo. — about 90 miles from the Mizzou campus in Columbia. Park invited Heckmaster into his dorm room and admitted that he posted the messages, according to the documents.

Park “admitted the posts were ‘inappropriate,’ ” police wrote. When Heckmaster asked whether the messages were “a saber-rattling incident,” Park responded: “Pretty much.”

According to the documents posted by the Missourian:

I asked Hunter what he meant by the phrase “some of you are alright; don’t go to campus tomorrow.” Hunter smiled and stated “I was quoting something.” I asked if he was quoting the Umpqua shooting; he replied “mmhmm.” I asked why he had quoted the phrase; Hunter replied “I don’t know I just … deep interest.”

Mizzou operated at a “regular schedule” following Park’s arrest, according to an MU alert, though the campus appeared quiet in pictures posted online.

Park’s lawyer did not immediately returned requests for comment Thursday.

Earlier this week, Tim Wolfe resigned as president of the University of Missouri System, amid concerns about how the institution handled complaints about racism and the treatment of minorities. Missouri’s chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, would also step down, the UM system Board of Curators announced.

The decisions came after a graduate student had gone on a hunger strike and the university’s football team had threatened to boycott it’s game against BYU on Saturday.

The ongoing episode at Missouri has sparked protests and demonstrations at other U.S. colleges campuses empathizing with the Missouri students, but also has elicited other examples of racism, including vandalism of a black cultural center at Missouri and an anonymous threat against black students at Howard University.

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