Former University of Maryland Honors Student Pleads Guilty After Threatening Shooting Rampage
Back in March, Alexander Song, a student at the University of Maryland, made numerous online threats of a shooting rampage on the College Park campus. Song was immediately dismissed from the school and taken into Police custody. This week, months after the original threat, Song entered a plea of guilty to the charges he faced as part of a plea deal that will enable him to avoid jail time.
This case is interesting because Song is being punished for the threats that he posted online, which could have been hollow. Law enforcement was unsure not only of whether Song had the actual intent to pull off such an act, but they also questioned his ability to get something like this done even if he really wanted to. Police found no weapons in his dorm room, car and parent’s home and also concluded that he had not tried to procure any weapons.
Song will be under supervised probation for up to three years, with a 9 pm curfew. By entering a plea of guilty to a charge that carries 3 years in jail, Song will now be unable to ever purchase or carry a firearm.
This is a type of charge and case that we might not have seen even five years ago. The explosion of social media and the various ways in which we communicate with each other are ripe for this type off anonymous thuggery. As far as we know, Song had no intention to carry out any of the acts that he was threatening, but because he put those thoughts in a place that other people could find them, he found himself in trouble for a crime that is a product of this generation.
With the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado and the threatened shootings in other places, authorities are being more persistent in their pursuit of these types of cases than ever before. What Song did was absolutely wrong and he deserved to be punished for it, but the fact that a random posting on a social media site has led to a criminal investigation shows you just how seriously the police are starting to take this type of case. There is no wiggle room for a mass threat made against a large group of people like this. Song is paying the price for what could have been a joke on his part.
This case is also a good lesson about the dangers of this technology. In 2012 there is nowhere to hide. You can’t put something out into the ether and hope to remain anonymous. Even before the police gets involved, things like this will get traced back to you, and as this case shows, you could pay a pretty steep price as a result. If you are facing a criminal charge for something you put out on the media, it is important to contact qualified legal representation to discuss your options.