A University of Utah student was arrested Wednesday after allegedly making terroristic threats by posting on social media, the same day as a Utes’ football game, she was going to detonate the nuclear reactor on campus if the team didn’t win, officials said.
The 21-year-old student posted the threat on the social media application Yik Yak, according to a university statement.
The student was identified as Meredith Miller in a highly-redacted report from university police.
“On Saturday, Sept. 17, the University of Utah Police Department was notified someone had posted a message on YikYak: “If we don’t win today, I’m detonating the nuclear reactor on campus,” the statement said.
University police determined a student did post the message and she was interviewed on Wednesday, officials said.
“She acknowledged posting the statement and was arrested and taken to the Salt Lake County Jail and booked for making terroristic threats,” officials said.
Miller was not immediately reached for comment Thursday. It was unclear if she had secured an attorney.
The student claimed her statement was meant as a joke, the university said, however, “We have a zero-tolerance policy for these kind of threats,” Police Chief Jason Hinojosa said in the statement.
The University of Utah’s nuclear reactor, Hinojosa said, is secured and alarmed and police have unique protocols for managing any breach of the facility.
A university spokesperson told NBC News on Thursday, the university has a nuclear engineering program which is why there is a reactor on campus. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Utah is one about 25 universities with a nuclear reactor.
During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Hinojosa said police had no choice but to arrest the student, even if she was joking.
“Under state law, it doesn’t matter. Even if they’re completely incapable of carrying out the threat, or, the threat is made but an attempt is not, it’s still the same charge.”
He added that a university employee reported the threat, which was posted anonymously on the social media platform. Subpoenas and warrants were served, Hinojosa said, to obtain the IP address from which the threat was made, which led police to the student.
It’s up to the district attorney’s office to determine whether to pursue the case against the student. No one with the prosecutor’s office was immediately reached Thursday.
A representative of the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office said the student was no longer in the jail after posting bail. The representative was unsure how much the student’s bail was.
The student’s alleged threat follows an August case of another student at the university who called in a bomb threat for the David Eccles School of Business during the first week of classes, officials said.
NBC affiliate KSL of Salt Lake City reported the 19-year-old student was arrested after he also allegedly used the Yik Yak application to make the bomb threat.
The Utes defeated San Diego State 35-7 on Saturday. The team’s record now sits at 2-1.
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