Student who threatened shooting gets probation

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- A judge ordered probation last Friday for an honors student who threatened to shoot up Wayne State University with a machine gun.

Ali Saad's online threat a year ago turned out to be false, but no one knew it at the time. Two people who read it alerted authorities, and Wayne State police and FBI agents launched an investigation.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Murphy III called it a "big deal" but agreed with the prosecutor that prison wasn't necessary, despite guidelines that called for a possible term of up to a year.

"Your conduct stemmed from anger and narcotics or substance abuse," the judge told Saad. "If you slip into drug use or impulsive behavior, you're going to be here again and on your way to jail."

Saad wrote online that he was planning to take an AK-47 to Wayne State's General Lectures building and kill more than the 32 people who died at Virginia Tech University in 2007, according to the FBI. Authorities said he pledged to set up a webcam to record it and wrote, "Be sure to tune in."

Saad, 20, apologized in court. He also got a significant break: Authorities found images of child pornography on his computer but didn't pursue charges, which carry a mandatory five-year prison term.

"Taken together, Saad had committed a variety of felony acts from the comfort of his bedroom," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mulcahy said in a court filing ahead of the hearing.

Nonetheless, Saad's good qualities "outweigh the bad," the prosecutor said in urging no prison for the false threat.

Saad must live with his parents and stick to an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew for at least a year while on probation for three years. More than 30 friends and family members were in court to support him, including his former principal at Fordson High School in Dearborn, where he completed 19 college credits and received a prestigious leadership award in 2009.

Saad now is a student at the University of Michigan in Dearborn. Defense attorney Robert Kalec told him not to comment outside court.

Kalec told The Associated Press that the blog used by Saad had a message that anything posted was fiction.

"He did not intend for anyone to take it seriously," Kalec said.

Published: Tue, Dec 13, 2011