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Student released on bond after threat on Yik Yak to shoot up campus
Emily-Sakamoto mugshot
Emily Sakamoto

"Oxford student arrested for threat to shoot up campus" (October 12, 2015)

What is Yik Yak?

Yik Yak is a social messaging app that allows users to anonymously post messages and to read messages from posters within a five mile radius.

The messages are not necessarily anonymous to law enforcement, however. See Yik Yak's legal notice, www.yikyakapp.com/legal, which notifies users that the app records for each message the IP address of the poster, GPS coordinates, time and date and more, which can be made available to law enforcement requesting the information through legal procedures or more immediately in the case of an emergency.

 

OXFORD - The Oxford College student who was arrested after threatening on social media to shoot up campus has been released on bond.

Emily Hikari Sakamoto was released from Newton County jail shortly before 9 p.m. Monday on a $1,500 bond, set by Judge John Degonia. She faces a felony charge of making terroristic threats.

According to the arrest warrant, Sakamoto told officers that the threats had been a joke and that she had not known it was against the law.

Sakamoto, 21, reportedly admitted to posting a threat on Yik Yak, an anonymous messaging app, that said "I'm shooting up the school. Tomorrow. Stay in your rooms. The ones on the quad are the ones who will go first." Oxford College students who saw the message shortly after midnight called 911.

Many students were not on campus over the weekend since it was fall break, which ended Tuesday. Students who were on campus actively communicated with one another.

Sophomore Yaw Kumi-Ansu was on campus over the weekend and heard about the threat. "People weren't really scared. Some people, but on the whole, it was okay," said Kumi-Ansu.

"I didn't feel unsafe," he said. "From the get-go, I knew it wasn't serious. It was on Yik Yak. Someone making a serious threat on Yik Yak... They might, but this campus is different"

Sophomore Thomas Lampeter said he saw an earlier message that was taken down similar to the message that was reported.

"It was pretty much the same thing. The first one had something to do with taking a bunch of some drug and shooting after. It was the same time period, same person.

"Honestly when I saw it, I was kind of confused. The one I saw kind of looked like it almost rhymed. I wasn't sure if someone was making some sort of weird rap. But it didn't quite look that way so I was confused and concerned. And later I saw the screenshot of the one everyone was talking about. It wasn't someone being bad at rapping."

"As soon as we found out who it was, it was not surprising. This was a girl who wasn't well known for... maybe not the most level-headed individual."

He added that he did not know her well, but clarified that he did not think this was not an art project or academic project. "This is a person who has had issues in the past and has been helped with those issues."

He felt the university's administration did a terrible job in communicating to students about the threat. "The only communication was student to student," he said, through texting and Facebook. On the Oxford College student Facebook page, "There were a couple students that took the initiative on ‘Here are some ways you can stay safe,' while the university was totally silent."

Sakamoto was arrested around 5 p.m. Sunday and an email from Oxford College Dean Stephen Bowen went out to students, staff and faculty around 8:30 p.m.

By Wednesday, with classes back in session, most of the messages on YikYak in Oxford related to midterms, exams, cleaning lint out of the dryer lint trap, failing grades, and the Democratic debate.

One thread was on Sakamoto's release and included reactions and comments such as:

"Her bail was only $1500. It's not a surprise she's out. I'm sure she's being watched really closely though because the police would get in a lot of trouble if they released someone who later went and shot up th school or hurt someone, etc."

"Yeah, you're right, but I would still prefer if she had a solid week in jail, at least enough time to make sure that her threat was not credible (i.e., no weapons or expressions of intent)

"I think Emory should make her take at least a year off and only let her back with proof of extensive therapy."

"I agree with (above poster), as much as I hate this person, a second chance is tremendously preferable, besides she could still come back to campus and hurt people either way'

"Wait, I thought she just posted it as some kind of sick joke? It doesn't make it any less horrifying, but do we really know that she really had intentions to hurt anyone?"

"She's a great girl. This was a f___ed up joke, but there was never any real threat to anyone's safety. Everyone needs to chill the f___ out. I feel bad for her and her boyfriend."

"You can't expect to make a threat like that and hope people take it lightly. Why are you all feeling so much pity for her??"

"Look, I agree that she deserves everything she has coming to her. She made a ton of people fear for their lives, and we have every right to be upset by her actions and demand justice. Just keep in mind we are all human, and we have all f____ed up in big ways (maybe not this big, but still.) what if we were all defined by the worst thing we ever did? Just some perspective." 

What is Yik Yak?

Yik Yak is a social messaging app popular in schools and college campuses that allows users to anonymously post messages and to read messages from posters within a five mile radius.

The messages are not necessarily anonymous to law enforcement, however. See Yik Yak's legal notice, www.yikyakapp.com/legal, which notifies users that the app records for each message the IP address, GPS coordinates, time and date and more, which can be made available to law enforcement through legal procedures or more immediately in the case of an emergency.