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Matthew Mullen sentenced to probation for Yik Yak threat

March 4, 2015
<p>MSU Alumnus Matthew Mullen stands with defense attorney Frank Reynolds March 4, 2015, at Ingham County 55th District Court, 700 Buhl St. in Mason. Mullen was sentenced to two years probation and restitution payments for an alleged terrorist post on Yik Yak last year. Kennedy Thatch/The State News</p>

MSU Alumnus Matthew Mullen stands with defense attorney Frank Reynolds March 4, 2015, at Ingham County 55th District Court, 700 Buhl St. in Mason. Mullen was sentenced to two years probation and restitution payments for an alleged terrorist post on Yik Yak last year. Kennedy Thatch/The State News

Photo by Kennedy Thatch | The State News

Because Mullen plead guilty to the charge, under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act he is able to avoid jail time and a criminal record if he follows the terms of his probation.

When Mullen sent the false threat, “I’m gonna (gun emoji) the school at 12:15 p.m. today,” he was in his dorm room working on a paper and texting his mother, his attorney, Frank Reynolds, said.

The post Mullen made was in response to a thread on Yik Yak titled “MSU is better than (Florida State University), because at MSU we don’t shoot our students,” Reynolds said, and it was part of a joking “banter” between a friend and him.

On Nov. 20, 2014, two days before Mullen made the post, a gunman opened fire inside a Florida State University library, wounding three people before he himself was killed by police, according to the New York Times.

Reynolds said Mullen had second thoughts about the joke, as he pulled it down within one to two minutes of posting. But it was too late — a user had notified the authorities.

The threat prompted response from MSU police Meridian Township Police Department and the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, and several schools in the East Lansing and Lansing area were put on alert.

Because of that police response, Mullen’s sentencing included nearly $800 in fees split among the three law enforcement agencies.

During the sentencing, Mullen apologized for the trouble he caused to the communities affected and to his father, who was in attendance, and his family. Mullen declined to comment after the court proceeding.

He is currently attending Oakton Community College in Illinois, where he is a straight-A student, Reynolds said.

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