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UPDATED The Portage County Grand Jury issued a "no bill" and refused to indict Koberna on the more serious felony inducing panic charge, instead dropping it down to a decided on Friday, August 3 The Brunswick college sophomore facing criminal charges after posting threats to the Kent State campus and President won't have to worry about classes in the next term.
The Grand Jury instead opted for a telecommunications harassment charge, a misdemeanor, and Koberna was arraigned on the lesser charge. If convicted, Koberna could face up to six months in jail. He was released from lockup after posting bail and no longer required to wear the GPS tracker originally ordered to make sure he complied with a judge's order to stay off campus and away from Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton.
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At least for the short term.
The University today put 19-year old William Koberna on “interim suspension” pending the criminal charges he's facing over what police say was his outburst on Twitter. The University could hand down a permanent suspension or expulsion once the criminal case is resolved.
Koberna was arrested Sunday night at his parent's home after the tweet (web posting) was discovered online by a Kent State employee, who relayed concerns to the University's police department.
Police interviewed Koberna Saturday evening after the social media website Twitter confirmed the identity of his account; the post had been made using a pseudonym. They filed charges Sunday morning.
Koberna has pleaded not guilty to felony inducing panic and misdemeanor aggravated menacing charges. He's on a $50,000 bond and wearing a GPS monitor to comply with court orders that he stay off the Kent State campus and away from KSU President Lester A. Lefton.
Koberna has another court date on Friday.
Kent State's message is pretty clear when it comes to threats, serious or otherwise: "we're not gonna play."
Kent State University spokesman Eric Mansfield talked about safety on the main and regional campus locations following the arraignment of William Koberna, 19, for threats posted on Twitter to "shoot up" the campus, along with threats aimed at Kent President Lester Lefton.
"If someone wants to say something like this, we're going to take it seriously and the police are going to investigate and if warranted file criminal charges," Mansfield said. He noted parents of elementary school children taking part in programs on the Kent campus Monday were calling the University with concerns over safety on hearing the news Monday. "Anybody that's going to say something like this, we're not going to take this as a joke. Just like the TSA doesn't play when someone mentions bombs at airports, we're not going to play when someone mentions violence on our campus."
Koberna was arrested without incident at his parent's Brunswick home Sunday and charged with felony inducing panic and a misdemeanor aggravated menacing charge. He was ordered held on $50,000 bond, and on release from the Portage County Jail must wear a GPS tracking device to be sure he honors a court ruling to stay off campus and not contact Lefton.
Mansfield says monitoring and review of social media is part of the University's policy to assure the safety of the student, faculty, staff and visitors to Kent State facilities. An employee of the University spotted the post on Twitter last Friday evening and immediately notified the University police department. They, in turn, contacted Twitter to determine the identity of the account holder since the posting came under a pseudonym. Once Koberna's name was obtained, police spoke with him Saturday evening and decided to file charges Sunday.
"Everybody's on edge, certainly in the higher education community after seeing what we saw at Virginia Tech, and Northern Illinois University, what we've seen on the high school campuses of Chardon and as well as Columbine. Everybody's very in tune with the chatter that's out there," Mansfield said. "Even before what happened in Aurora."
Mansfield said students and faculty are urged to contact authorities when seeing any threat, regardless of whether they think it's someone just blowing off steam or kidding around.
"Nobody wants to be worried when you're on a college campus," Mansfield added. "Who knows what could have happened had something materialized out of a tweet like this and we had not seen it coming."
Bond was set at $50,000 today for the Kent State student charged with making threats to "shoot up" the campus and KSU President Lester A. Lefton in a Twitter post last week.
William Koberna, 19, of Brunswick was arraigned in Ravenna this afternoon on a felony charge of inducing panic and a misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing. His next court date will come with a scheduled hearing August 3.
Koberna was told to stay away from the KSU campus as well as avoid any contact with Lefton. In addition to the criminal charges, he also faces university sanctions that include suspension as well as expulsion from the University.
Kent State University officials were monitoring Twitter last week when they ran across a tweet allegedly posted by a student that allegedly made threats to "shoot up" the campus.
Today, social media websites create an avenue for users to send messages to large audiences and with that advantage, can come new consequences.
"What they haven't learned is that's a huge format and we are going to take it seriously in law enforcement," Tim Dimoff said, president of SACS Consulting, Inc. in Akron.
As police departments advance their response protocols for incidents in relation to threats, Dimoff says charges may become more severe.
"What you're going to see is faster reaction and you're going to see an upgrade in response from the police departments and the charges," Dimoff said on 1590 WAKR's Ray Horner Morning Show.
What may have been a misdemeanor charge, is now a felony charge in some cases according to Dimoff.
Kent State University police say a student made threats to "shoot up" the KSU campus and, in particular, directed the threat at KSU President Lester Lefton. He's now in the Portage County Jail, charged with felony inducing panic and a first degree misdemeanor of aggravated menacing.
A University source says William Koberna, 19, of Brunswick and a sophomore at Kent State, posted the threat on his Twitter account. Police were alerted and Koberna answered their questions; the University police also worked with Twitter to identify the person behind the tweet (posting) before filing the charges.
Koberna was arrested by Brunswick police without incident. Authorities say no one was ever in danger.
(Kent State University - news release) Kent State University Police have charged William Koberna, 19, with Inducing Panic (a Felony of the Fifth Degree) and Aggravated Menacing (a Misdemeanor of the First Degree) related to a public tweet in which he threatened violence to the university campus.
Koberna recently lived in Kent, but currently resides in Brunswick. Brunswick Police executed an arrest warrant at Koberna’s home late Sunday afternoon and took him into custody without incident.
Koberna, who is a sophomore, will be arraigned Monday. Koberna faces university hearings that can result in his suspension or dismissal.
“Any threat to our campus community is taken seriously and immediately investigated,” said Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton. “Our students, employees, and all those who come to campus should know that their safety is our top priority.”
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