By: Yuri Smishkewych | Published April 21, 2016
Kean graduate and self-proclaimed activist Kayla Simone-McKelvey admitted to tweeting numerous threats that left the Kean community “in a state of fear and panic” last November.
McKelvey, 25, pleaded guilty to a charge of creating a false public alarm before Superior Court Judge William Daniel on April 18,the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
The prosecutor recommended she receive a term of up to 90 days in jail and agree to pay $82,000 in restitution costs to cover the police response and heightened security on campus in the days following the threats.
The news follows Daniel’s decision at a hearing on April 14 when he rejected an appeal submitted by McKelvey’s lawyer, Thomas Ashley, after she was denied entry into a probationary program known as pre-trial intervention (PTI) in March.
According to NJ Advanced Media, in a brief submitted to the judge as part of the appeal, McKelvey’s lawyer stated that she was disheartened after only five students arrived to an on-campus protest on the night of Nov. 17.
McKelvey then went to a library computer from where she created a Gmail account that she then used to create the “keanagainstblk” Twitter account on which the threatening statements—including a bomb threat—appeared.
“These messages caused the campus of Kean University to be in a state of fear and panic for three days. People were afraid to walk on the campus,” said Assistant Prosecutor David Schneider at hearing earlier this month.
The statement also said that McKelvey then returned to the rally after making the posts in an attempt to “spread awareness of the threats she had just fabricated.”
In the hours following the threats, concerned students on and off-campus re-posted the tweets, dozens more protesters joined the protest and the university issued an alert by 2:30 a.m.
A second alert issued by the university in the early morning hours told members of the Kean community that there will be heightened security levels throughout the day and through the remainder of the week.
Throughout the day on Nov. 18, parking lots were visibly empty, classroom attendance was sparse and some faculty members chose to cancel their classes.
McKelvey’s lawyer told The Tower in February that she was “very apologetic about what happened.”
In a phone interview, the prosecutor’s office did not elaborate as to why their initial recommendation of a six-month jail term was reduced to 90 days.
McKelvey’s sentencing date is set for June 17.
Yuri Smishkewych may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.