Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Houghton County Prosecutor's Office awaits complete investigation of social media threat at Michigan Tech

The Houghton County Prosecutor’s Office issued this statement as the result of inquiries regarding the recent threat posted on Yik-Yak by a Michigan Tech student:

This matter was brought before the Prosecutor’s Office Friday, November 13, 2015, a day on which approximately 20 cases were set for various hearings.

During the course of Friday, the Prosecutor’s Office worked with Michigan Tech Public Safety and had a search warrant prepared, authorized, and executed that day.

Late Friday afternoon, the Prosecutor’s Office was advised that the search yielded no evidence to indicate an actual ongoing public danger, nor was there obvious evidence of motive or intent. However, computer/electronic equipment was seized to determine if it contained information related to such issues.

Some questioned why a prosecution has not been started under Michigan’s Anti-Terrorism Statute. That statute contains a definition of terrorist act which requires more than a threat of violence, it has an intent or motive element.

The charge has not been brought because the investigation is incomplete and at this point, evidence of intent or motive is lacking.

A final determination will not be made until there is a substantially complete investigation.

This matter has not been taken lightly. The Prosecutor’s Office worked promptly with MTU Public Safety to assure the public was not at risk and to preserve and develop evidence. The disturbing the peace charge was not intended to be an opinion on the seriousness of the event. It was filed as a charge that could be filed based on the information available. Consideration is being made to dismissing it because of intervening considerations not as a denial of all charges.

There are questions in this case that need research in addition to the need for evidence. A final determination will be evidence-based according to law after adequate investigation and research. It will not be based on emotion. It will be based on law and facts.

Houghton County Prosecutor's Office
401 E. Houghton Avenue Houghton, MI 49931
(906) 482-3214

Editor's Note: See "UPDATE: Suspect in social media threat at Michigan Tech released on bond," with statement from Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz, posted Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, and our Nov. 16, 2015, article, "Local peace marchers protest racist threats on social media, prosecutor's lenient charge against Michigan Tech suspect."

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