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Yik Yak user gives EWU student, police a scare with threat of Valentine’s Day massacre

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 16, 2017, 4:13 p.m.

A former Eastern Washington University student gave a current student and the EWU police quite a scare when he threatened a Valentine’s Day massacre via an anonymous social media post.

The student, who left the school in 2015 and now lives on the west side of the state, responded to a student’s post on the social media site Yik Yak on Jan. 25 asking what everyone was doing for Valentine’s Day, court document state.

It read: “I’m planning on having a massacre, you know, celebrating Valentine’s the original way. There’s no school like old school.”

The student who posted the original question contacted EWU police officers, and told them she was “very concerned and afraid about such a violent posting,” court document state.

Yik Yak is a social media app similar to Twitter, except it hides user’s identities and automatically deletes posts, similar to Snapchat.

Gary Gasseling, deputy chief of the EWU Police Department, said police took the threat seriously and issued a warrant to Yik Yak’s headquarters in Atlanta to obtain the user’s identity, according to court documents

“There was a massacre on Valentine’s Day,” Gasseling said. “That’s what he was referring to.”

Gasseling said Yik Yak responded with the user’s identity on Feb. 13 – the day before the alleged threat would take place.

“We called him and he said, “That was a really stupid. I was really tired and I thought it would be funny,” Gasseling said. “Obviously it’s not funny. We spent a lot of time on this.”

Though the ordeal used police time and resources, Gasseling said they opted not to arrest him or pursue the investigation.

Gasseling said Yik Yak has a history of users posting threats anonymously across the country and many colleges deal with threats posted on the site.

Last year, he said a woman was arrested for making threatening statements on the site about shooting up residence halls.

Police also learned of two Eastern Washington University students who reported receiving threats from people who accused them of making an anonymous tip about misbehavior by fraternity members in 2015.

But other than a few cases, Gasseling said, social media use on campus has been mostly civilized.

“I think what happens here, because we’re an educational school, most of the kids here, they kind of self police themselves in that respect,” he said. “The people who aren’t are probably not the most conscientious.”