USU lecture canceled after mass shooting threat

LOGAN — An email sent to Utah State University staff and students Tuesday afternoon threatened a “Montreal Massacre style attack” against attendees and Women’s Center staff unless the school canceled a Wednesday lecture with nationally known writer and video game critic Anita Sarkeesian.

“You have 24 hours to cancel Sarkeesian’s talk,” the message read. “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs.” The sender claimed to be a student, and made references to Marc Lepine, a shooter who murdered 14 women in Montreal in 1989.

Sarkeesian has been the target of violent threats before, and had planned to continue with the lecture with increased security, including restricting backpacks inside the auditorium.

After learning that Utah’s gun laws prevented university staff from restricting concealed firearms at the event, Sarkeesian cancelled.

Utah State University Director of Media Relations Eric Warren said they received the email Tuesday afternoon, and have been communicating with concerned students and staff via social media. Warren could not confirm if the sender was a student. “This is an ongoing investigation involving local, state, and federal authorities, including the FBI cyber-terrorism task force,” Warren said, “but these emails leave fingerprints.”

On the final decision to cancel the lecture, Warren said, “Simply, we couldn’t ensure her safety.”

Anita Sarkeesian is known for her video series and written criticism of how women are depicted in video games, film, and television.

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