UD sophomore charged in campus shooting threat, called post “a joke”

Joseph Kirill Hartrich, 19, was arrested and charged with two felonies for allegedly posting a shooting threat to Yik Yak.

Zoë Hill Print Editor-in-Chief

A 19-year-old University of Dayton student was charged Tuesday for allegedly posting an active shooter threat on social media. 

Joseph Kirill Hartrich, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, was taken into custody at 12:37 p.m. Monday by UD Public Safety. He is accused of posting a threat to Yik Yak detailing the intention to “shoot up this school.” He faces two felony charges: one count of making terroristic threats and one count of inducing panic under the Ohio Revised Code. 

The threat, posted anonymously to Yik Yak at 10:57 a.m. detailed a plan to shoot up the university, starting at noon at Marianist Hall, a primarily sophomore dorm that also houses the UD Bookstore and a convenience store. A second threat came in just before noon that read “9 minutes I’ll strike.”

UD Public Safety Chief Salavas Kidd was alerted of the first threat at 11:11 a.m., according to court documents. Kidd called in assistance from the City of Dayton Police and the City of Oakwood Police. He also reached out to the Dayton Regional FBI office and ​​the FBI Cincinnati field office, which helped Public Safety attain the phone number used to post the threat. 

According to Yik Yak’s privacy policy, the app collects user information including IP addresses, phone numbers, and location data. Under this user agreement, the app can share this information with law enforcement when requested. The regional FBI office put in an emergency request to Yik Yak and received the phone number and coordinates of the poster. The agency tracked the number to Hartrich. 

“This incident demonstrates the important partnership between the FBI and local police who work together each day to help protect our community,” said FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers in a joint statement with the UD Public Safety. “While the FBI provided assistance in this investigation, the University of Dayton Department of Public Safety led this effort and utilized all available resources to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff at UD.”

Hartrich was interviewed by police and initially said he had lost his phone near the Science Center that morning and found it near Kennedy Union after pinging it with his Apple Watch. He later confessed to police that he did post the threats, according to court documents. 

“Hartrich said that he always observes what he describes as ‘stupid threats’ on Yik Yak and posted the threat as a joke,” Officer Huffman said in an affidavit. 

Hartrich gave police permission to search his dorm in Virginia W. Kettering Hall, and no weapons were found, according to police. 

The FBI and UD Public Safety said there has been an “increase in hoax threats to schools, universities and other public buildings in Central and Southern Ohio.”  Law enforcement treats these threats seriously because of the impact they have on the affected communities, according to the joint statement.

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