A University of New Orleans student was arrested this week after commenting on the social media app Yik Yak that he would like to see privileged students at Tulane University “massacred.”
Alexander Knecht, 20, was booked Tuesday on a single count of terrorizing after an investigation by a Tulane University Police Department detective connected him to the online remarks. Police said Tulane had received at least one complaint saying that students feared going to class after seeing the posts.
A judge quickly ordered Knecht released on his own recognizance but forbade him from posting to social media or the Internet in general.
Knecht allegedly used Yik Yak — an anonymous, location-based app that often serves as a sort of electronic bulletin board — to disparage Tulane students and say he wouldn’t mind seeing them blown up.
“I just want to see a bunch of undeserving kids get killed that’s all,” one of the posts read, according to police. “But the coroners office will have to decide who you are when you get blown up.”
Another comment read, “Nah I’m not trolling lol I would actually be happy if I woke up and saw Tulane was blown up or something,” and “I would laugh if you got massacred lol.”
Another post cited by police suggested that Knecht’s animosity was aimed at the perceived privilege among students at the Uptown campus: “When you gain ego off your parents assets and act like your above everyone I legit could careless if you’re breathing and I probably hope you aren’t.”
The arrest warrant does not spell out any further context in which the statements may have been made.
Tulane spokesman Michael Strecker said police “immediately determined that they did not represent credible threats. However, such postings violate the law, and we are compelled to take them very seriously.”
Knecht is employed at the Half Moon Bar and Grill in the Lower Garden District and lives in the Venetian Isles neighborhood, according to an arrest register.
Knecht’s lawyer, Joseph McMahon, said police have presented an incomplete picture of Knecht’s actions, though he did not provide any additional details.
“We’ve got a young guy who’s got no criminal record,” McMahon said. “There are many facts yet to be determined and evidence presented.”
Three Tulane students filed a police report about the online comments Oct. 11, according to an arrest warrant drawn up by Detective Dennis Serena.
Another complaint, filed anonymously with the university the next day, said the comments left students worried and that some “don’t even feel safe coming to campus now.”
Tulane police contacted Yik Yak’s legal team, which agreed to turn over the original poster’s geographic location and Internet Protocol address, as well as an associated phone number. More sleuthing revealed that the phone number was tied to Knecht’s Facebook profile, which identified him as a UNO student.
Bomb threats on Yik Yak have closed high schools and colleges across the country. The supposedly anonymous comments on the online forum can often be traced back to their actual users by law enforcement.
On Tuesday, a Texas A&M University student was arrested for making a “terroristic threat” after warning students on Yik Yak not to go to campus between particular hours, adding, “THIS IS NOT A JOKE!”
Louisiana law defines terrorizing as communicating that a crime is imminent, “with the intent of causing members of the general public to be in sustained fear for their safety … or causing other serious disruption to the general public.”