Cumberland Times-News

December 13, 2007

Misdemeanor charges filed against FSU gamer

Jeffrey Alderton

CUMBERLAND - Two misdemeanor counts of disrupting a school operation have been filed against a Frostburg State University student who allegedly made an Internet threat of "shooting up the school," according to district court documents.

The charges were filed in a criminal summons issued by a district court commissioner following consultation between the C3I Unit and Allegany County State's Attorney Michael Twigg.

Although the charges against 19-year-old Allieu Shaw of Gaithersburg are on file, there was no record Wednesday that Shaw had been served the summons. A trial date is set after the defendant is served a summons.

Shaw faces a maximum penalty of one year jail time and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

He was taken in handcuffs from FSU's Annapolis Hall, Room 148, at about 2 p.m. Tuesday after the C3I Unit learned of his location.

The university has placed Shaw on interim suspension pending an administrative hearing to be conducted by FSU.

According to court records, Shaw was playing the game "Call of Duty 4" on the XBOX Live gaming system with players around the country when he allegedly stated the threat of "shooting up the school." The statement reportedly contained a description from Shaw concerning "how he was going to do it."

Shaw was playing the role of first-person shooter on a live audio feed when he made the alleged threat.

Another player, Kaipo Damurand of Oregon, contacted the Frostburg Police Department to report Shaw's alleged threat.

C3I began an investigation at 6:19 a.m. Tuesday after learning of the matter from the Frostburg Police Department.

The incident prompted an immediate response from FSU, local law enforcement and the Allegany County Board of Education, which ordered its schools in Frostburg to be in "lock-in" status when they opened at about 8 a.m. In addition, the Eckhart Alternative School was placed on lock-in status and St. Michael School in Frostburg was made aware of the threat of violence at FSU.

State troopers from Allegany, Garrett, Washington and Frederick counties responded to the campus along with the Allegany County Sheriff's Office, Frostburg Police Department and FSU Police, which has an officer assigned to the C3I Unit.

FSU spokeswoman Liz Medcalf said there were 40 police officers patrolling the campus at one point Tuesday.

Students, staff and faculty were notified of the threat by the FSU emergency alert text messaging system as well as by internal e-mail. The communication urged all to immediately report any observations of suspicious activity.

As the university community and the rest of the city pondered the frightening possibility of violence shattering the typical calm of the Mountain City, police working with Microsoft and XBox Live tracked the Internet provider address to Shaw and his room at Annapolis Hall.

After Shaw was taken into custody, he reportedly told investigators that "he was joking and had no intention of following through with the threats," according to the court documents.

At 2:10 p.m. Tuesday, police executed a search warrant at Shaw's room. Apparently no weapons or evidence relating to the threat were found.

A search of the Maryland Judiciary Case Search Web site did not show any other criminal cases pending or any charges previously filed against Shaw.

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at jlalderton@times-news.com.