SALT LAKE CITY – A University of Utah student was arrested and charged with making terrorist threats on Wednesday after police said she threatened to detonate a nuclear reactor if the school’s football team failed to win a game last Saturday.
Charging documents filed in Salt Lake City on Wednesday allege the 21-year old student posted threats before Utah’s game against San Diego State University on Saturday, warning that she “was going to detonate the nuclear reactor that is located in the University of Utah causing a mass destruction.”
The threats were allegedly posted on YikYak, a social media platform that allows users to post anonymously and which rose to prominence on college campuses a decade ago.
According to the charging documents, the student studied engineering and had knowledge of the university’s nuclear reactor.
The University of Utah is among more than two dozen U.S. universities with nuclear engineering programs that use reactors for faculty and student research.
The university said in a statement on Thursday that the reactor was secured and campus law enforcement had protocols in place to ensure no breaches are made. Officials said the student, who it did not name, admitted to posting the threat and told investigators on Wednesday that it was meant as a joke.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for these kinds of threats,” University of Utah Police Chief Jason Hinojosa said.
Court records did not list an attorney representing the student. A call made to her family’s listed home phone number went unanswered on Thursday.
Utah defeated San Diego State in Saturday’s game, 35-7.