Investigators target 4chan threat poster in UK

Photo by Andreas Patsiaours

Photo by Andreas Patsiaours

The aftermath of the lockdown at Wilfrid Laurier University on Oct. 16 has triggered discussion among the school’s student, staff and faculty.

The lockdown happened as a result of a threatening post made on the controversial website, 4chan.org. The post was similar to one made against Umpqua Community College in Oregon where 10 people were shot.

The post read “Some of you /b/tards are all right. Don’t go to Laurier science building hall tomorrow. Happening thread will be posted in the morning.”

Investigations of the threat were made by Federal Bureau of Investigation and Crime Stoppers, who alerted the Special Constable Services and Waterloo Regional Police Services.

After thorough investigation through the Science Building and online, it was determined there was no immediate threat to Laurier and the university decided to lift the lockdown around 11:30 a.m. the same day.

In a press conference, Pat Dietrich, superintendent for WRPS said the safety of students and faculty was “at the front” when deciding to lock down the school.

“The safety of our community is absolutely paramount. That is what caused us to put in place the lockdown,” said Max Blouw, president of Laurier.

Around 165 first-year students remained in residence during the lockdown.

The poster, 22-year old Daniel Ransem, posted it from the United Kingdom as a “running inside joke.”

“[The lockdown was] a very unfortunate situation,” said Danielle McKay, fourth-year English and communication studies student at Laurier. “But it’s good that it happened on reading week so that there weren’t a lot of students panicking on campus and getting in the way of the investigation.”

According to CTV News, Ransem, a resident of the UK, has been charged with creating the post.

In an interview with Ransem, he confessed the Laurier name was taken out of another post made on the website.

“When you post on 4chan you don’t expect it to take it seriously,” he said in the five-minute CTV interview.

Ransem said users on 4chan create what they call “grinch postings,” where people create false statements on the site.

Ransem did not think people across North America would take his post seriously.

“In my eyes it wasn’t considered a warning, it was considered a joke … I was under the assumption that people don’t take 4chan seriously.”

Ransem was charged with malicious communications by the British police service, and is currently on bail and will be heading back to court in January.

A hearing will also be taking place in the near future.

Mike Haffner, staff sergeant of WRPS said when reports of threat are connected to the university, they are taken seriously.

“We connect with the school or vice versa, so we obviously have the safety of the staff, faculty, students, the community, at the forefront,” he said.

According to Haffner, neither WRPS nor anyone who investigated the online threat on Friday have jurisdiction over any arrests or charges made in the UK.

“Part of it was identifying where the message or the posting was from, that was in the UK,” said Haffner.

“So just liaising with a number of law enforcement agencies including the Metropolitan Police Service in the UK to provide them with as much information as we can so they can substantiate a charge.”

As for SCS, Haffner believes the team was outstanding in their services, especially with the SafeHAWK mobile application that notified all students about the lockdown.

“[The school’s] notification systems work wonders, and it’s just a great way to get all that messaging out to students and faculty [and] staff.”

Leave a Reply