(columbiatribune.com) - A former Central Methodist University student was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of making a terrorist threat by calling the Howard County 911 center last Thursday and saying a gunman was on campus.
Brian Baxter, 21, of Fayette was released yesterday from the Howard County Jail after posting $20,000 cash bond. He also was arraigned yesterday in Howard County Circuit Court.
Howard County Prosecuting Attorney Deborah Riekhof said in the felony complaint that she believes Baxter placed the call about "an armed man walking toward Burford Hall" on the CMU campus and that he did so "with reckless disregard of the risk of causing the evacuation or closure of the University campus."
The call specified that an armed man, a white male wearing a white hoodie, was walking toward Burford Hall on the CMU campus.
According to a probable cause statement filed by Fayette Police Chief Jeff Oswald, officials put the campus on lockdown after the call at 10:03 p.m. last Thursday while the Fayette Police Department and four other law enforcement agencies conducted a building-by-building search. The incident was considered "cleared" about 12:45 a.m.
Oswald reported that 608 students in CMU's five dorms were affected by the lockdown.
Local police on Monday received a cellphone recovered on the corner of Crib and Linn streets, one block south of the campus, Oswald wrote. After charging the phone at a Boonville store, Oswald scrolled through the phone's contacts list and called the number for "Cell Mom." The woman who answered said the phone belonged to her son, Thomas Backues, who told police he had given the phone to another student earlier this semester.
Backues' father later brought him to the prosecutor's office, where Backues told authorities that he had given the phone to Baxter a few days earlier and that they had been talking about the "gunman prank" after the incident, Oswald wrote.
Backues told Oswald that Baxter told him he was responsible for the prank.
Baxter was not currently enrolled at CMU but was a former student, said Kent Propst, executive director of marketing communications at CMU.