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U. of C. Shooting Threat 'Stupid' But Not Sincere, Family of Suspect Says

By  Sam Cholke Kelly Bauer and Stephanie Lulay | November 30, 2015 12:38pm | Updated on November 30, 2015 6:37pm

 Police presence was high on the University of Chicago campus Monday after the FBI warned of a possible shooting, which prompted the closing of the campus.
Police presence was high on the University of Chicago campus Monday after the FBI warned of a possible shooting, which prompted the closing of the campus.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

HYDE PARK — The family of 21-year-old Jabari R. Dean said his online threats to kill white University of Chicago students were nothing more than "silly, ignorant" ramblings.

The FBI arrested Dean for allegedly threatening to kill 16 students or staff members on the U. of C. campus in retaliation for the murder of Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer. The threats led the school to cancel classes Monday but officials said Monday evening that things would return to normal Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said Monday afternoon that Dean was arrested Monday morning and was in federal custody in connection to the threats made to the campus in Hyde Park.

Dean has been charged with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The U.S. Attorney's office confirmed earlier reports that the threat was made over the Thanksgiving weekend online at www.worldstarhiphop.com.

In the comment, Dean allegedly threatened to come to campus heavily armed and kill 16 white male students or staff.

"I will be armed with a M-4 Carbine and 2 Desert Eagles all fully loaded," the online post states, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. "I will execute approximately 16 white male students and or staff, which is the same number of time Mcdonald was killed. I then will die killing any number of white policemen that I can in the process. This is not a joke. I am to do my part to rid the world of the white devils."

During a federal hearing Monday, Dean's family said it was a "stupid, silly, ignorant" thing to do, and prosecutors admitted they do not believe he had the means to commit such a crime.

"He had no intentions of doing anything. He just thought it was fun and games," a crying Dean's uncle Phillip Rutherford said after the hearing. "This is absolutely nuts."

Rutherford later said he let FBI agents into the apartment building where he, Dean and Dean's mother live on Sunday night and was present when they first questioned Dean about the online post.

He said the agents told Dean that he would not be arrested until they checked with the U.S. Attorney's Office. Rutherford said FBI agents then returned at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Monday and handcuffed Dean while he was taking out the garbage.

"Because they didn't arrest him last night, we were hoping and praying this would blow over," Rutherford said.

Prosecutors said Dean is cooperating with the FBI and declined to say whether Dean's home, where he lives with his mother, was searched. The FBI did not immediately confirm Rutherford's timeline of the arrest.

Dean is set to return to court on Tuesday and prosecutors said they won't object to bond for Dean.

Rutherford said Dean has no criminal record, no interest in terrorism and has no affiliations with gangs.

"He's a wonderful kid. He just goofed ... it cost him his life," his uncle said. 

The details of the threat were first reported by the Tribune.

The University of Illinois at Chicago issued a statement early Monday afternoon before Dean was identified saying that the person arrested was one of its students.

"A UIC student living off campus has been arrested in an investigation of threats made against students and staff at the University of Chicago," the statement said. 

According to Dean's Linked In page, he graduated from Hirsch Metropolitan High School in Grand Crossing in 2013 and he studied pre-engineering at Chicago State University from 2013 to 2015. He is currently an electrical engineering student at UIC, the page states.

Dean allegedly admitted he posted the statement from his phone when he was approached by FBI agents at his Chicago home. Dean said he took the comment down shortly after posting it, federal officials said.


On Monday, the University of Chicago campus was empty except for police and members of the media after a threat of violence made online prompted the campus to close.

University officials decided Sunday night to close the campus through midnight on Monday after being informed by FBI counterterrorism officials that an individual posted an online threat of gun violence that mentioned the campus quad and listed a time of 10 a.m. Monday.

The university ordered students, faculty and staff to stay home, and as 10 a.m. came and went, the campus was nearly empty except for a strong presence by University of Chicago Police Department officers and media.

University Chief of Police Fountain Walker was on the quad at 10 a.m. and said he was going to check in with his officers stationed around the quad after meeting with three members of the Chicago Police Department’s SWAT team, which was also on the quad.

Police presence was strong, but lacked any overt show of force. Officers were dressed in their standard uniforms, and even the SWAT officers carried only holstered handguns.

Though students and staff were advised to stay away from campus on Monday, President Robert Zimmer remained on campus meeting with students in the residence halls, according to Jeremy Manier, a spokesman for the university.

Zimmer’s wife, classics professor Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer, remained at their home on campus, but declined to comment.

Those who did venture onto campus either did not get the warnings or said they did not believe the threats were credible.

“I don’t think anything is going to happen,” said Teddy C., who declined to give his last name and said he worked on campus.

Jonah Augustine, a doctoral candidate in the anthropology department, said he doesn’t check his email until he gets to campus and was informed by media on the scene that campus was closed.

“I was actually going to a meeting this afternoon, but I guess I’ll go back home,” Augustine said.

His curiosity quickly got the better of him and he said he would venture onto the quad to at least see what it looked like empty of everyone but police.

The university announced will reopen on Tuesday.

"Normal operations will resume on Tuesday, December 1 for the University, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the University of Chicago Charter School campuses, the University libraries, the Quadrangle Club, residential and dining facilities, and other campus facilities and functions," Zimmer said in a statement. "The University will leave additional security presence in place through the end of the Autumn Quarter."

While no threats were made against the University of Illinois at Chicago campus on the Near West Side, patrols were increased there, too, Monday.

“We are monitoring this situation closely and are concerned about the impact this has had on our campus and the University of Chicago,” UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis said.

Read the complaint against Dean here: 

Jabari Dean Criminal Complaint

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