World

University of Missouri student faces terror charges

A white college student suspected of posting online threats to shoot black students and faculty at the University of Missouri was arrested Wednesday, adding to the racial tension at the heart of protests that led two top administrators to resign.

Arrest made after a social media post threatened to 'shoot every black person I see'

University of Missouri assistant professor Melissa Click was seen calling for 'muscle' to remove a photographer during a public protest this week on campus. (YouTube/CBC)

A white college student suspected of posting online threats to shoot black students and faculty at the University of Missouri was arrested Wednesday, adding to the racial tension at the heart of the protests that led two top administrators to resign earlier this week.

Hunter M. Park, a sophomore studying computer science at a sister campus in Rolla, was arrested shortly before 2 a.m. at a residence hall, authorities said. The school said no weapons were found.

Park, 19, who has not yet been formally charged, is enrolled at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He was jailed in Columbia, about 120 kilometres to the northwest, where he was booked on a preliminary charge of suspicion of making a terrorist threat. Because the county courts were closed for Veterans Day, he was not expected to appear before a judge until at least Thursday.

Hunter M. Park, seen in a booking photo provided by the Boone County, Mo., Sheriffs Department, is suspected of posting online threats to shoot black students and faculty at the University of Missouri. (Boone County Sheriffs Department/AP))
The author of the posts, which showed up Tuesday on the anonymous location-based messaging app YikYak and other social media, threatened to "shoot every black person I see." The posts followed the resignations on Monday of the University of Missouri system president and the chancellor of its flagship campus in Columbia.

Months of protests culminated in a tumultuous week on the Columbia campus.

In September, the student government president reported that people shouted racial slurs at him from a passing pickup truck, galvanizing the protest movement. Last week, a graduate student went on a hunger strike to demand the resignation of university system president Tim Wolfe over his handling of racial complaints.

Football players stage walkout

Then more than 30 members of the Missouri football team refused to practise or play in support of the hunger striker. Those developments came to a head Monday with the resignation of Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, the top administrator of the Columbia campus.

By Wednesday afternoon, authorities were investigating a second threat on YikYak, this one levelled at the Rolla campus by someone saying, "I'm gonna shoot up this school."

Earlier Wednesday assistant professor of communications at the University of Missouri Melissa Click has apologized for confronting a student who was videotaping protests on the university's campus.

In a statement released Tuesday she said she regrets her actions a day earlier, when she was captured in a video challenging student Mark Schierbecker and calling for "muscle" to help remove the photographer from the protest area.

Schierbecker was filming a confrontation between a student photographer who was working for ESPN and protesters, who were preventing him from taking pictures. The confrontation drew national attention and criticism.

Describing the day's events as "full of emotion and confusion," Click said, in a statement released via a university Twitter account, she had "reviewed and reflected" on the video.

"I regret the actions and strategies I used, and sincerely apologize to the MU campus community, and journalists at large, for my behaviour," she wrote. 

Click said she had apologized to "the journalists involved" but did not identify any by name. She added that "one of the reporters" had accepted her apology. 

The group Concerned Student 1950, led by University of Missouri graduate student Jonathan Butler, second from right, speaks following the announcement that University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe would resign. (Sarah Bell/Missourian/Associated Press)

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now