A SICK online hoaxer threatened a copycat shooting at Edinburgh University just hours after a gunman opened fire at an Oregon college, killing nine and injuring at least seven others.
Thursday’s tragedy saw 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, who was born in England, open fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.
Hours before the Oregon killing, an anonymous user – believed to be Harper Mercer – used online message board 4chan to warn of his shooting spree.
And yesterday Capital students were alarmed after another anonymous poster used the same board to threaten to commit a copycat shooting at Edinburgh University.
Mimicking the original threat, the new post appeared featuring an image of a shotgun and the words: “Hark, my brothers, the Beta Uprising is finally here. Don’t go to University of Edinburgh tomorrow.
“To all the normies viewing this, keep checking the news, you’ll see a lot of us on the news over the next few days.”
Don’t go to University of Edinburgh tomorrow... keep checking the news, you’ll see a lot of us on the news over the next few days”4chan post
The post was made in reply to a conversation around the Oregon shooting. The “Beta Uprising” is believed to refer to quiet, downtrodden and bullied men rising up against society with acts of violence.
The phrase has been linked with the 2014 Elliot Rodger shootings in Isla Vista, California, after he uploaded a video manifesto blaming women for rejecting him and other men for being more romantically successful.
Yesterday, city leaders
condemned the threats as “reprehensible” and insisted the individual behind them was either “thoughtless or sick”.
Councillor Cameron Rose, who represents the student-heavy areas of Southside and Newington and previously worked as a police officer, said: “It’s reprehensible as it takes up police time and causes unnecessary fear.
“But it’s inevitable that the police have to do some investigating and I hope they get the person responsible. It’s completely concerning that somebody would do this when we have so many new students trying to get to grips with life in a new city, and they have enough concerns and fears without such inappropriate threats.”
The Edinburgh University threat was later made public on other message boards, with some students saying they would be skipping class as a result.
On Reddit – another online message board – one user said: “I hate to bow to paranoia, but I’m going to give my lectures a miss (I go to Edinburgh).”
Another agreed, adding: “Better safe than sorry to be honest.”
And one said: “That’s very worrying. It’s most likely a troll, but with recent events, yeah, needs to be taken seriously.”
The university declined to comment and refused to say whether it had stepped up security as a result of the threat, directing all inquiries to Police Scotland.
But an Edinburgh University security manager told a student newspaper: “Edinburgh University Security Section are aware of the possible threat towards the university and are dealing with it in accordance to our procedures and in liaison with Police Scotland.
“Please be assured the safety of our students and staff are a priority.”
It is understood Police Scotland had no information to suggest the online comment was anything more than a sick prank.
A force spokesman said: “Police Scotland is investigating following reports of a communication posted to a website. Inquiries into this communication are ongoing.”
And Edinburgh University Students’ Association downplayed the risk, posting on Facebook: “This incident is being dealt with in accordance with the university’s procedures. There is no evidence that this posting is credible and the current assessment from both the university’s security team and Police Scotland is that the risk is low.
“The university and Police Scotland have no evidence that this is anything other than an unpleasant hoax. However, Police Scotland has launched an investigation.
“The university is working in close liaison with Police Scotland and taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of students and staff, which is always their key priority.
“If in the light of this news any student does not feel comfortable coming into the university at this time, they should let their personal tutor know.”
The threat caused widespread alarm because of its similarities to one made on the same website the night before the Oregon college shooting on Thursday.
Nine died in the rampage – including the gunman himself – and now US police are investigating a possible link between the online threat, which has now been deleted, and the horrific crime.