Increased security prompted Lee University terrorism suspect to come forward
BRADLEY COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -
A Lee University student is in hot water with local law enforcement and federal investigators after making an online threat.
Administrators warned those on campus of the threat on Monday. After an increase in police presence the student came forward Wednesday.
18-year-old Olayinka Opaso is facing a felony terrorism charge.
Opaso made an anonymous threat on the social media app Yik Yak, prompting the university president to send out a message to students and staff Monday.
"Certainly recent events on college campuses have made all 4,000 colleges and universities across the United States, I guarantee you, on heightened alert," says Dr. Jerome Hammond, Vice President of University Relations
Hammond says the administration immediately increased security on campus, prompting Opaso to come forward.
"The increased police presence brought attention to this person that this was very, very serious," says Hammond.
Police say Opaso is from Nigeria. According to his Facebook page he went to high school in South Carolina before coming to Lee.
"We're very serious when it comes to safety and security," says Director of Campus Security, Matt Brinkman.
Brinkman says even though it is the start of Fall break, the increased security will remain in place in the coming days to give students peace of mind.
"We're going to be around. We're still doing patrols just to reassure them that we're still out there and we're still, our primary focus is safety and security for the campus," says Brinkman.
Students say they are pleased with the university's response and hope this situation serves as a learning lesson for others.
"They did a good job of staying calm and keeping students calm and having enforcement around and like making us see that they are taking care of the situation," says freshman Aster Osburn.
"If he was joking, that's a terrible joke. No one should ever joke about that because stuff like that really does happen," says freshman Sarah Karlik.
"Students and everybody needs to take a step back sometimes and look that, hey, you know, that quick post in anger or trying to make a something funny, it has consequences that go with it," says Brinkman.
Local law enforcement continue to investigate this case.
Opaso is charged with commission of an act of terrorism which is a Class A felony, meaning if he is convicted he could serve 15 to 25 years in prison.
Opaso bonded out of the Bradley County Jail on a $75,000 bond. His next court date is scheduled for October 25.