Edmonton

U of A student charged after threat to blow up campus buildings posted on social media

Edmonton police have charged a University of Alberta student after a bomb threat was posted on social media earlier this month.

20-year-old man charged with uttering threats, conveying a false message with intent to injure or alarm

Edmonton police have charged a University of Alberta student in relation to a bomb threat posted on social media earlier this month. (CBC)

Edmonton police have charged a University of Alberta student after a bomb threat was posted on social media earlier this month.

Campus security notified city police on April 19, about a post on Chillabit — a social media app for university students.

The post reads, "Planning to bomb the University administration building, and the St. Jean admin building in protest. Email me at april30@nada.email for info and to join," according to The University of Alberta's student newspaper, The Gateway, which published a screenshot of the post Thursday.

Cheryl Voordenhout, Edmonton Police Service spokesperson, confirmed that was the post investigated by police.

The 20-year-old man was arrested without incident on campus on April 20. After a search of his residence, police charged him with uttering threats and conveying a false message with intent to injure or alarm.

"As soon as the post was detected, University Protective Services and police investigated and continuously monitored campus buildings," Voordenhout told CBC News Friday morning.

Police found no evidence of explosives on campus and deemed an evacuation unnecessary, she said.

Samuel Gagnon, a 23-year-old University of Alberta alumnus who graduated last year, spotted the post on a Campus Saint-Jean feed on the app. He reported it using an in-app mechanism, then sent a screenshot of the post to friends who are current students at the university. They then forwarded it to campus police, he said. He also urged other users on the app to report the post to the app's developers.

"Even if there was a 100-per-cent chance the person was joking, I wanted the person to know it was not an acceptable joke to make under any circumstances," he told CBC News on Friday afternoon.

Gagnon said he had mixed feelings about the charges laid by police. 

"I want the person to learn that it's not an acceptable thing to do," he said. "I don't want that lesson to be extremely costly for them."

Edmonton police said they take all threats to the public security seriously.

"Social media can give us the feeling of being anonymous and without consequence," said Det. Philip Hawkins, with the EPS cyber crime investigations unit, in a press release.

"This particular threat resulted in a large-scale police investigation of the student's home that involved our tactical and bomb disposal units."