Utah Student Arrested After Threatening to Detonate Nuclear Reactor if Utah Lost to San Diego State

by Samantha Whidden

A University of Utah female student has reportedly been arrested after threatening to detonate a nuclear reactor if the school’s football team lost to San Diego State last week. 

Authorities told KSL that the Utah student was arrested on Wednesday (September 21st) after she made the threat. She was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail as she is being investigated for making a threat of terrorism. 

According to the case’s affidavit, prior to the game’s kick-off on Saturday (September 17th), the Utah student posted “threats of violence” on Yik Yak. She stated that if the football team did not win the game, she was going to detonate the nuclear reactor that is located on the University of Utah campus. 

Authorities further state that student does have “knowledge” of the nuclear reactor. She was also aware of where the reactor is located and goes to class in the same building where the reactor is housed. It’s unclear how investigators were alerted to the post or how they were able to track down the student. 

The Daily Utah Chronicle previously reported that the nuclear reactor is housed in the university’s Merrill Engineering Building. The reactor is for teaching and research purposes. It is also considered the only reactor in the state. It functions by nuclear fission, the spitting of neutrons into smaller pieces. The reactor is also used to analyze material samples through neutron activation analysis. 

Thankfully, Utah did end up beating San Diego State 35-7 in Rice–Eccles Stadium. The Utes football team’s 2022 season record is 2-1. The team will be going up against Arizona State this Saturday (September 24th). 

Another Utah Student Was Arrested After Making a Bomb Threat 

Just a few weeks before the nuclear reactor threat, another Utah student was arrested for investigation of the same crime. The 19-year-old male student used the Yik Yak app to make a bomb threat. It was directed at the Spence Fox Eccles Business Building. 

KSL obtained the affidavit in that case. “The threat was seen by other students and reported to the University Police Department,” the report reads. “Officers locked down the Eccles business building and evacuated employees.”

Authorities brought in a bomb-sniffing dog to investigate the building. Luckily, the dog didn’t find any explosive devices. During the incident, detectives were able to trace the phone number and name registered to the Utah student’s Yik Yak account. When questioned, the student admitted to making the threat “as a joke” and said he had no intention of carrying out the threat. He also stated he had no ability to make a bomb. 

Upon being taken into custody, authorities stated they discovered that the Utah student was carrying a fake Hawaii driver’s license.