ASU Police Department arrested three ASU students on Tuesday for bomb threats made on Yik Yak Monday night concerning the Memorial Union and the Hassayampa Academic Village, police and court documents said.
Lukas Patton, Peter Fraenkel and Trevor Benoit were "booked on a felony charge of interference/disruption of an educational institution, and four misdemeanor charges," ASU PD said in a Tweet on Wednesday. Benoit worked as a photographer for The State Press in 2020 and has not been on staff since then.
At 9:15 p.m. on Monday, Benoit posted to the social media app Yik Yak, "I put a bomb in the MU," according to court documents detailing his arrest. Benoit later admitted to making the posts and said he had been drinking, the documents said.
At the same time, on Yik Yak, Patton said, "No I put the bomb in the MU" and "It's ok guys we all put the bomb in the MU," in response to Benoit's post, according to the documents. Another Yik Yak user reported Patton's posts to the police.
According to court documents detailing Fraenkel's arrest, he posted on Yik Yak at approximately 10:11 p.m. on Monday, "I feel bad if you live in Hassy (Hassayampa), I just placed a bomb in there."
According to the court filing for Benoit, ASU PD contacted Yik Yak since the posts were anonymous. Yik Yak provided ASU PD with the phone number tied to the account that posted the first bomb threat. ASU PD then ran it through the ASU student directory, the document said, and found Benoit had the same phone number as the one connected to the Yik Yak account.
Once arrested, Patton said he admitted to making the posts and believed they were a joke, a court filing said.
In an interview with police once arrested, Fraenkel said the post was "a bad joke" and that he never intended for the statement to be a threat.
Monday night ASU PD evacuated the MU, the Hassayampa Academic Village and the Barrett Residential Complex due to the bomb threats.
ASU PD, the Tempe Police Department and the Chandler Police Department cleared out the Memorial Union and the Hassayampa Academic Village early Tuesday morning with K-9 units. "No items of concern were discovered during the thorough investigation of the facilities," ASU PD spokesperson Adam Wolfe said in an email on Tuesday.
All three of the students arrested were released on their own recognizance.
The incident Monday night comes nearly seven months after an ASU student was arrested for having explosive materials in his dorm room.
Edited by Wyatt Myskow, Greta Forslund and Grace Copperthite
Jasmine Kabiri is a managing editor at The State Press, overseeing and editing stories produced by the six digital desks. She has previously worked as a news intern at the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado.