WSU student accused of terroristic threats ordered to have mental evaluation

Tuesday , January 10, 2017 - 5:00 PM3 comments

LORETTA PARK, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — A Weber State University student accused of saying he would kill people over a disciplinary matter may have mental health issues, his attorney said.

James Retallick said his client, Thewodros Wolie Birhanu, 35, may have “some mental health problems” when he appeared in 2nd District Court before Judge Noel Hyde on Tuesday, Jan. 10. An Amharic interpreter was sworn in and interpreted the court proceedings for Birhanu, who is from Ethiopia.

Hyde ordered Birhanu undergo a mental health evaluation and scheduled another hearing for Tuesday, Jan. 17.

The student is charged with three counts of threats of terrorism, second-degree felonies; and one count each of criminal trespass and threat of terrorism, class B misdemeanors.

Birhanu, a physics student enrolled at Weber since 2014, was meeting with an official about alleged student code violations on Dec. 21, 2016, when he became angry and threatened to kill people, WSU police said.

According to a police probable cause statement, Birhanu threatened to kill people, burn cars and cause other destruction unless the student code charges were dropped. He left and threatened two other officials outside, causing police to lock down the Miller Administration Building for about an hour, police said.

Police said school officials had started student code proceedings against Birhanu earlier in December for alleged disruptive behavior on campus.

Possible administrative action will not be taken against Birhanu by the school until court proceedings have concluded, university spokesman Allison Barlow Hess said Tuesday.

Birhanu is being held at the Weber County Jail without bail.

You can reach reporter Loretta Park lpark@standard.net or at 801-625-4252. Follow her on Twitter@LorettaPark SE or like her on Facebook.

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