UMd. police chief: Alert may have tipped off suspect

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland’s chief of police is detailing why an alert was not sent to students after a sophomore posted online he was planning a shooting rampage on the College Park campus.

Chief David Mitchell says an alert had been prepared, but investigators believed Alexander Song was still online and were trying to determine his location to arrest him, WTOP has learned.

Police say Song wrote, “hopefully I will kill enough people to make it to the national news.”

“At one point he went offline, and we were about to send the alert, but then we pinged his phone so we knew where he was,” Mitchell says.

“We knew he was planning the attack for Monday at 1 in the afternoon, so we were concerned if we sent out an alert that he saw he might take action immediately,” Mitchell says.

Police say Song typed, “I will be on a shooting rampage tomorrow on campus” early Sunday morning.

“We knew he’d be coming back to campus, so when he arrived about 10 a.m. Sunday morning we took him into custody without incident,” Mitchell says.

University President Wallace Loh released a statement Monday, “Our detectives were actively tracking the student’s whereabouts throughout the morning and a public alert might have disrupted those efforts before they were able to take him into custody.”

He went on to say, “As always, we are committed to maintaining clear and open communication with our campus community, subject to the sensitive nature of ongoing investigations and the professional judgment of our police department.”

Mitchell says the determination to order an emergency psychiatric confinement was based on Song’s statement that he expected to be killed by police.

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