Student who wanted to be the next Elliot Rodger stays behind bars over online threats
By Jimmy Lovaas
SEATTLE (Reuters) – Federal authorities on Wednesday ordered the continued detention of a University of Washington student who police say posted messages online threatening to kill women and praising another college student who went on a killing spree in California in May, officials said.
Federal prosecutors have not yet filed charges against Keshav Mukund Bhide, 23, but he is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday, said Emily Langley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Bhide was arrested on suspicion of harassment and cyber stalking on Saturday at his apartment-style suite at the Seattle campus, said Major Steve Rittereiser, spokesman for the University of Washington Police Department.
Bhide was taken into custody because of his online comments on YouTube and Google+, which investigators found included praise for California mass shooter Elliot Rodger and threats to commit violence, Rittereiser said. The case was turned over to local prosecutors for possible charges of harassment and cyber stalking, he said.
A King County judge on Monday ordered him held on bail of $150,000 until a court hearing at a Seattle jail on Wednesday, which was the deadline for prosecutors to charge him under Washington state laws, officials said.
But on Wednesday, local prosecutors declined to file charges and federal officials placed a detention hold on Bhide, officials said.
Langley declined to say what charges Bhide might face.
“I think federal charges are being contemplated,” Langley said. “Internet use often involves interstate commerce, and that is clearly within the federal jurisdiction.”
A King County court document said investigators found Bhide had posted online messages about Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old man who last month killed six University of California, Santa Barbara, students and wounded 13 other people before taking his own life in the college town of Isla Vista.
Rodger left behind videos and writings expressing sexual frustrations and his plans to kill women.
“Everything Elliot did is perfectly justified,” Bhide wrote under an account with the name “Foss Dark,” according to court documents.
Police say he also chatted with other Web users, including one who asked his name and residence.
“I live in Seattle and go to UW, that’s all (I’ll) give you. (I’ll) make sure I kill only women, and many more than what Elliot accomplished,” he replied, according to court papers.
It was not clear if Bhide has retained an attorney.
(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bill Trott)