Man accused of Wilfrid Laurier threat says it was an 'inside joke' on 4chan
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, October 19, 2015 1:36PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 19, 2015 2:37PM EDT
The British suspect who was charged for allegedly posting the online threat that resulted in an emergency lockdown at Ontario's Wilfrid Laurier University says he didn't realize it would be taken seriously.
Daniel Ransem, 22, told CTV News in an exclusive interview that he was simply posting a message he had already seen on the online forum 4chan. He added that he never intended it to be taken seriously, because these types of posts are a "running joke" on the site.
"They're called 'Grinch postings,'" he said Monday, adding that some 4chan users post about actions they don't intend to carry out.
"It's kind of an inside joke on the website… Obviously, there's a lot to be said about taking a comment online and taking it out of context."
The threat against the university came to light after a tip about the anonymous post on 4chan early Friday morning. The threat triggered a lockdown that shut down the campus, located in Waterloo, Ont., for nearly six hours.
A photo that was shared on Twitter before the lockdown showed a 4chan post featuring an image of a frog holding a gun. The post read: "Don't go to laurier science building hall tomorrow. happening thread will be posted in the morning."
Ransem was charged under the British Malicious Communications Act, which prohibits sending threats with the intent to cause distress or anxiety. Penalties under the charge include a jail term of up to six months and a fine of up to $10,000. He said he is due back in court in January.
Ransem insisted that he never meant to cause anyone any harm, but was simply "trying to fit in," because, he noted, "everyone else was doing these kinds of things on 4chan."
"There was no mal-intent behind what I posted," Ransem said. "Everyone is trolling each other – it's a hive of trolls. When you post on 4chan, you don't expect to be taken seriously."
He did admit that, in hindsight, it was a "bad decision" to post the false threat. He also apologized to the staff and students at Wilfrid Laurier University.
"From the bottom of my heart, I am very, very sorry. I did not mean for the university to be shut down," he said.
With files from CTV News' London Correspondent Daniele Hamamdjian and The Canadian Press