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College rampage threat 5 days after the Colorado shooting leads to arrest

Five days after the Colorado shooting, a Kent State sophomore allegedly 'tweeted' profanities and threats at university president, threatening to 'shoot up' the school. 

By Staff Writer / July 30, 2012

William Koberna is seen in an undated booking photo provided by the Kent State University Police. Authorities say a Koberna, 19, a Kent State University student, allegedly posted a message on Twitter saying he planned to "shoot up" the northeastern Ohio campus. He was arrested Sunday.

Kent State University Police/AP

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A sophomore at Ohio’s Kent State University pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he threatened the school’s president, allegedly saying in a posting to the microblog service Twitter that “I’m shooting up your school ASAP.”

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William Koberna’s alleged threat on July 25 came just days after a graduate student methodically shot and killed a dozen people at a Colorado movie theater, stunning the nation and rekindling the fiery debate over gun control in the US.

It was unclear what sparked Mr. Koberna's threat but it highlighted the complexities related to the First Amendment and its expression through in the exploding social media universe of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and other sites.

Police arrested Koberna, 19, at his parents’ suburban Cleveland home on Sunday after university contacted police about his profanity-laced Twitter postings directed at university President Lester Lefton and the phrase “I’m shooting up your school ASAP.” 

At his arraignment Monday in Portage County Municipal Court in Ravenna, Ohio, Koberna, a computer science major, pleaded not guilty to inducing panic, which is a felony, and aggravated menacing, which is a misdemeanor, according to newsnet5.com. During the hearing, he told Judge Mark Frankhauser he has “no prior criminal record — not even a speeding ticket.”  

No weapons were found at his parents’ house. Bail was set at $50,000 and he was ordered to stay off campus and have no contact with Mr. Lefton.

The university says he also faces hearings that could results in a suspension or dismissal.

The incident again highlights the power and pitfalls of social media where users can be quick to post a comment or blast out an email that can ricochet around the Internet in seconds. When it comes to rules determining unprotected speech, social media is no different than any other technology — from a newspaper article to a postal letter, says Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in New York City.

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