July 24, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Tweeting teenager arrested at Kent State had no weapons, officials say

By Kiera Manion-Fischer and Jennifer Pignolet

Authorities said a Kent State University student from Brunswick who threatened in a Twitter post to “shoot up” the campus didn’t have weapons to carry out the threat.

“They’re convinced that he did not have access to weapons,” said Eric Mansfield, a Kent State spokesman. “But, nevertheless, the tweet was so serious, they felt that they had to pursue it, and the prosecutor agreed to file the charges.”

William Koberna

Mansfield said Kent State police concluded William Koberna, 19, didn’t have any weapons after interviewing him, his parents and people close to him.

Koberna was arrested Sunday afternoon at his parents’ home on Pennys Drive in Brunswick. He was charged with inducing panic, a fifth-degree felony, and aggravated menacing, a first-degree misdemeanor.
No weapons or search of the house was mentioned in the Brunswick police report of the arrest.

Police Sgt. Robert Safran said university police instructed Brunswick officers to arrest Koberna on a warrant, but did not ask them to search the house.

Koberna was arraigned via video Monday afternoon before Judge Mark Fankhauser at the Portage County Municipal Court in Ravenna. He pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Koberna was in custody at the Portage County Jail as of Monday evening but is expected to be released after posting 10 percent of a $50,000 bond set by the judge.

As a condition of his release, Fankhauser ordered Koberna to wear a GPS tracking device, to stay away from the campus and to have no contact with Kent State President Lester A. Lefton, who specifically was threatened in the tweet.

Koberna’s 17-word Twitter post ended with “I’m shooting up your school” and signed “# A$AP,” according to a police report.

Of the first 11 words, only Lefton’s name and the words “you,” “my” and “ya” were not profanities.

“The tweet itself is loaded with profanity, but it does mention Dr. Lefton, our president, by name, and then it concludes by saying he’s going to shoot up — that expression — ‘shooting up’ the school,” Mansfield said.

He said a university employee noticed the message Friday night and informed police. The account the tweet was sent from is no longer visible, Mansfield said.

In addition to the criminal charges, Koberna will face university hearings. He could be suspended or expelled from the school.

Koberna, a sophomore computer science major, lived in off-campus housing during the spring semester but moved home to Brunswick over the summer, Mansfield said.

No one answered at the residence when a reporter from The Gazette rang the doorbell seeking comment.

One neighbor called Koberna quiet.

“To be honest, he seemed like a nice kid,” he said.

The threat came in the wake of a mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded July 20. Mansfield said that even if the shooting had not happened, Kent State police still would have investigated the message.

“We took this extremely seriously,” Mansfield said. “Anytime somebody threatens violence or the safety of our campus community, it becomes our top priority.

“We have more than 40,000 students across eight campuses. That’s a lot of people to protect, and we want to assure them that we’re doing everything we can to monitor any kind of threat and make sure it’s dealt with immediately, fairly and succinctly.”

Contact Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com. Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.

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The Gazette is Medina County's daily local news source, serving the community since 1832. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.