A University of Wisconsin-Madison student was charged with a single count of making terrorist threats by threatening to bring weapons to Bascom Hall on social media Tuesday. Dane County municipal court filed a criminal complaint against 26-year-old Thomas Hansen.
Madison Police Department (MPD) was dispatched around midnight on Friday to assist the Federal Bureau of Investigation in finding Hansen. The FBI stated they received a tip on Hansen Thursday where an anonymous individual said he was threatening to "bring guns to school."
The FBI said Hansen had posted multiple threats to the social media app YikYak last week, where he wrote, "I had a girl cancel a date with me today because I got a haircut last week and she doesn't know what I'll look like," followed by "I'm getting to that point where I think I should stop trying to date and start sneaking guns into crowded school buildings."
Another comment linked to Hansen's YikYak account directly referenced Bascom Hall — "You're cool, don't go to Bascom Hall next week."
In a recorded interview by the FBI Friday, Hansen repeatedly insisted his comments were a joke.
"The joke is that it sounds bad, but there is nothing bad being said," Hansen said. "Like class sucks, nobody wants to go to class, but, you know, it's also like what you would say if you were like, you know, like the Twitter Meme, like, I'm gonna be dangerous, don't go to class."
When asked if he had any guns in his apartment, Hansen admitted he did. After asking for a lawyer, Hansen ultimately consented to a police search of his apartment.
In the search, officers found a bag on the floor of Hansen's closet containing a large revolver that was not loaded, a box of .38 ammunition and a box of 9mm Luger ammunition. All items were collected as evidence.
Hansen was arrested Friday and made his first appearance in court on Tuesday. He was charged and released on a $500 signature bond. As a condition of his bond, he is banned from the UW-Madison campus and will be subject to GPS monitoring.
The comments were reported ten days after the Michigan State University mass shooting, killing three students and injuring five others.
"[The case] may be compounded by the recent tragedy at Michigan State University,” Assistant Vice Chancellor of UW-Madison Communications John Lucas explained. “The quick action taken by law enforcement demonstrates the presence of processes designed to protect public safety from threats."
Lucas said threats are taken "extremely seriously by the university, the UW Police Department and other members of law enforcement.”
“As soon as the posts were reported, law enforcement responded immediately in the interest of public safety,” Lucas added. “The student is currently banned from the UW-Madison campus as a condition of his bond."
Hansen's next court appearance is scheduled for March 24.
Zoe Kukla is a Graphics Editor, state news reporter, and photographer for The Daily Cardinal. Follow her on Twitter at @ZoeKukla.