LONDON — A man in London, England accused of posting an online threat against Wilfrid Laurier University says he made the comment as a joke and never expected anyone to take it seriously.
In an interview with CTV News, a man the network identified as 22-year-old Daniel Ransem apologized to the school for the distress he caused.
Ransem, who is charged with malicious communications, told the network the post is “a running joke” on the 4chan forum and he had no malicious intent.
He says he has been released on bail and is due back in court in January.
The U.K.’s Malicious Communications Act makes it illegal for anyone to send a threat with the intent to cause distress or anxiety.
The post, which was initially flagged by U.S. authorities, triggered a lockdown of the Waterloo, Ont., campus for nearly six hours on Friday.
Waterloo police compared the threat to a warning posted before a shooting earlier this month at an Oregon college that left 10 people, including the shooter, dead.
A photo shared on Twitter showed a post that featured an image of a frog holding a gun and read: “Don’t go to laurier science building hall tomorrow. happening thread will be posted in the morning.”
A post that preceded the Oregon shooting read: “Don’t go to school if you are in the northwest. happening thread will be posted tomorrow morning.”
Ransem said he didn’t realize authorities took those kinds of posts as real threats.
“I was ignorant of certain realities such as being that there was a level of paranoia across the pond that I wasn’t knowing about,” he said.
“I knew there was a lot of shootings but I didn’t know the paranoia was such that I was going to be arrested in this country. As soon as I was identified as being in another country, I’m not sure how I would be considered a credible threat.”
He said it was “a dumb decision” and he thought he was protected by freedom of speech legislation.
“From the bottom of my heart, I am very, very sorry. I did not mean for the university to be shut down. I’m not a bad man, 10 minutes with me and you’ll realize I’m as dangerous as a doormouse.”