Anton Shirokov, 29, a UCR student who posted a threat of violence against the campus on the popular social media app Yik Yak last Sunday between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., has been released on bail and is being charged with felony criminal threat and possession of metal knuckles, a charge unrelated to the threat.
Shirokov was taken into custody late Sunday night after admitting to police around 1:40 a.m. that he had posted the threat as a joke. According to a widely shared post, the threat read “UCR shooting spree coming! Mark my words, you cattle,” but Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications James Grant was unable to confirm that this was exactly what was posted.
Police searched Shirokov’s apartment after several concerned students took screenshots of the post and reported it to police. They found brass knuckles, which are illegal to own in California, and carry a penalty of up to a year in prison. Shirokov is also being charged with felony criminal threat, which carries a penalty of up to four years in prison. However, criminal threat charges, which UCPD Assistant Chief of Police John Freese referred to as “wobblers,” can be filed as either misdemeanors or felonies.
“The police normally file the greater classification, a felony, which is what we did with Shirokov,” Freese explained. The district attorney will now make the final decision about what charges Shirokov is formally charged with, based on factors such as criminal history and the severity of the crime.
According to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jim Sandoval, Shirokov is no longer attending classes at UCR, but could give no further information about his standing with the university.
Many students were alarmed by the post in light of the shootings that have occurred in the past few years, including the Isla Vista shooting that took place near UC Santa Barbara in May of last year.
“In the back of my mind, I was thinking maybe it was a joke, but it’s still kind of scary,” said first-year biology major Angela Burmayan, who learned of the threat via a text message from a friend.
“I’m legit scared to go to school, I’m always scared that something like this will happen,” read one Yik Yak post.
“It’s got a bunch of people, including me, afraid to go to my own school,” read another.
Shirokov is currently awaiting his next court date of June 22, and could not be reached for comment.