Koberna set free, suspended from Kent State

Robert and Karen Koberna, William Koberna’s parents, appeared in court and later posted a portion of his bond to secure his release from jail. Photo by Jenna Watson.

Drew Parker

William Koberna, the Kent State student accused of making Twitter threats to “shoot up” the university, has been suspended from Kent State, but is free after posting part of a $50,000 bond.

The 19-year-old sophomore computer science major pleaded not guilty to charges of inducing panic, a fifth-degree felony, and aggravated menacing, a first-degree misdemeanor, after allegedly posting a profanity-laced tweet July 25 that specifically mentioned Kent State President Lester Lefton.

Koberna’s 17-word Twitter post ended with “I’m shooting up your school” and was signed “# A$AP,” according to a police report obtained by the Medina County Gazette.

Of the first 11 words, only Lefton’s name and the words “you,” “my” and “ya” were not profanities, the Gazette reported.

Koberna was arraigned by video Monday before Judge Mark Fankhauser in Portage County Municipal Court in Ravenna.

As a condition of his release, he is forbidden from having contact with President Lester Lefton, he cannot be on campus and he must wear a GPS tracking device.

On Tuesday, Eric Mansfield, executive director of university media relations, said the university had suspended Koberna.

“Kent State University has placed student William Koberna on ‘interim suspension’ pending due process of criminal charges,” Mansfield said in an email.

During the hearing, Koberna asked for a court-appointed attorney. While Fankhauser read the charges against Koberna, Koberna made several protests of his innocence.

Portage County Prosecutor Vic Vigluicci said the state of Ohio is asking that Koberna be kept away from Kent State University for public safety.

“The allegation in this case is very serious. The allegation is that the defendant text messaged the Kent State University President [Lefton] and threatened to come to campus and start shooting,” Vigluicci said. “The state has asked that the court protect the public.”

Koberna’s alleged threat was actually posted via Twitter.

During the hearing, Koberna interrupted the prosecutor’s presentation of the case to the judge.

“Really?” Koberna asked. “That is completely false.”

Koberna’s parents, Karen and Robert, arrived late at the hearing because it was moved to an earlier time. Fankhauser told the court he changed the time of Koberna’s hearing to clear the media out of the courtroom sooner and explained the charges again for Koberna’s parents.

Koberna appeared on the screen wearing an orange and white-striped jail uniform. During the hearing he frequently shook his head from side to side and appeared shocked as the judge read the charges.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday before Judge Barbara Oswick in the Kent Courtroom of the Portage County Municipal Court.

Koberna, a former Kent resident, was arrested late Sunday afternoon at his parents’ home in Brunswick after allegedly making the threats.

The tweet that led to the arrest was posted in public view and was noticed by an unidentified Kent State employee Friday evening, at which time Kent State University police were notified.

The Kent State officers contacted Twitter to determine the owner of the account, then interviewed Koberna Saturday evening.

Charges were filed Sunday and Koberna was arrested without incident.

“Any threat to our campus community is taken seriously and immediately investigated,” said Lefton in a university press release. “Our students, employees, and all those who come to campus should know that their safety is our top priority.”

Contact Drew Parker at [email protected].