Yik Yak threat-maker sentenced to probation

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COLUMBIA — A judge sentenced the man who threatened University of Missouri students on social media last fall to five years of probation Thursday afternoon. The judge also said Hunter Park can never own a firearm.

The judge originally sentenced Park to three years in prison, but suspended that sentence in lieu of probation.

Prosecuting Attorney Brouck Jacobs said Park received a middle-ground sentence. He said Park's family was asking that a criminal conviction would be left off Park's record.

Hunter Park was charged with making terrorist threats to Mizzou's campus on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak last November. He pleaded guilty to the charges in April.

The Missouri Students Association at MU posted a few of the threats to its Twitter account the day after Park posted them, calling them unacceptable.

"Probation is appropriate. What Hunter posted was terribly wrong, it was a terrible mistake and he said some terrible things," Jeff Hilbrenner, Park's defending attorney, said. "But the Hunter that I've gotten to know over the past several months and the letters of support for Hunter show that the threats are not emblematic of who he actually is."

Hilbrenner read a few of the 58 character reference letters at the hearing that friends and family members submitted on Park's behalf.

One threat read, "Some of you are alright. Don't go to class tomorrow." Another said, "I'm going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see." The prosecutor listed about 10 other threats made from the app before they were taken down.

MUPD arrested Park around 2 a.m. the morning after he posted the threats. The defense said Park never intended to carry out the threats, because Park was not on MU’s campus at the time of the threats, as officials determined that night. Park was a sophomore at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo.

However, the prosecutor said Thursday that Park changed his coordinates on his cell phone at the time of the threats to trick the Yik Yak app into thinking Park was in the Columbia area. Jacobs said this made the threats seem more dangerous.

 

[Editor's note: This story has been updated for clarity.]

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