Crime And Law

FBI assisting University of Dayton after threat investigation Monday; Student arrested on charges

DAYTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now involved in the investigation into a threat at the University of Dayton that resulted in the arrest of a student on terroristic threat charges, according to an FBI spokesperson.

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A threat posted to social media Monday afternoon prompted a large investigation at the campus for at least two hours. The message threatened a shooting and was posted to the social media site Yik Yak, the FBI spokesperson said in a media release issues Tuesday.

Messages from students to News Center 7 indicated the threat was to a specific building on campus at a specific time Monday.

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FBI investigators assisted University of Dayton Public Safety officers and helped officers identify a student who was arrested on multiple charges.

“The FBI Cincinnati Field Office immediately utilized legal and investigative resources to identify the account holder who allegedly posted these statements. The information was provided to the University of Dayton Department of Public Safety for further action,” the FBI spokesperson said in the release.

The student, who was not formally identified by investigators, was arrested on charges of making terroristic threats and inducing panic, the FBI spokesperson said.

Online jail records indicate Joseph Hartrich, 19, was arrested on those charges by University of Dayton Public Safety and remains booked in the Montgomery County Jail Tuesday afternoon. Court records filed in Dayton Municipal Court Tuesday indicate he’s being accused of making the threat.

The FBI Office requested “an emergency disclosure from the law enforcement section of Yik Yak,” according to an affidavit and statement of facts. The FBI received a phone number and learned the coordinates of the phone location at the time of the post was on the UD’s campus.

The number matched records belonging to Hartrich.

Hartrich was brought in for questioning and initially denied sending the threat. He claimed to have “pinged his phone with his Apple Watch” and located on a bench outside the main lobby entrance to Kennedy Union. We investigators asked him to review his story and the steps he took, “Hartrich confessed to posting the threat.”

He told investigators that he “always observed what he described as ‘stupid threats’ on Yik Yak and posted the threat as a joke,” according the the statement of facts.

Hartich said he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and stated he had taken his prescribed medication that morning. UD Police and counseling center history showed that Hartrich had a history with mental health issues, according to court records.

“This incident demonstrates the important partnership between the FBI and local police who work together each day to help protect our community,” FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers said in the media release.

“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.”

The FBI has seen an increase in threats and hoax reports at schools in southern and central Ohio, including threats that prompted large lockdowns at several schools in the region.

“Issuing a threat through social media, via text message, through e-mail, or over the phone can be a federal crime (threatening interstate communications). The FBI and local law enforcement work with federal and state prosecutor to determine how each case should be prosecuted,” the FBI spokesperson said.

This is a developing story and we’ll continue to update this page as we learn more.

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