Seattle college student charged over Internet threats

SEATTLE Thu Jun 19, 2014 7:14pm EDT

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - A University of Washington student was charged in federal court on Thursday with making threatening comments over the Internet, where prosecutors said he pledged to kill women and praised a California college student who went on a killing spree in May.

Keshav Mukund Bhide, 23, was arrested on suspicion of harassment and cyber stalking on Saturday at his dormitory on the university's Seattle campus. Federal prosecutors charged him on Thursday with making interstate threats.

Bhide was taken into custody because of his online comments on YouTube and Google+, which investigators found included praise for 22-year-old California mass-shooter Elliot Rodger, police said.

Rodger killed six University of California, Santa Barbara, students and wounded 13 other people last month before taking his own life in the college town of Isla Vista. He left behind videos and writings expressing sexual frustration and his plans to kill women.

"Everything Elliot did is perfectly justified," Bhide wrote under an account with the name "Foss Dark," according to court documents. Police said Bhide also chatted with other Internet users, including one who requested his name and residence.

"I live in Seattle and go to UW, that's all (I'll) give you. (I'll) make sure I kill only women, and many more than what Elliot accomplished," he replied, according to court papers.

Bhide told FBI agents and police who went to his home that he was angry with YouTube videos created by Internet users critical of Rodger, according to the federal complaint.

"Bhide stated that he, like Rodger, had a hard time socializing at school and had few friends," an FBI special agent said in the complaint.

Earlier this week, local prosecutors declined to file charges against Bhide, turning the case over to their federal counterparts who said his menacing Internet comments involved a violation of U.S. law because his electronic communication traveled out of state.

Bhide posted the comments online between May 31 and June 9, threatening to cause serious physical injury or death to women at the University of Washington and to two other women online, the complaint said. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Authorities did not find Bhide had any weapons, said Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney.

Bhide, who appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle, was ordered to be brought back on Monday for a detention hearing to determine if he could be released from jail ahead of his trial.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Eric Beech and Will Dunham)

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