BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- The Western Washington University student accused of making racial threats on social media posted bail and got out of jail Tuesday night.
Tysen Campbell, 19, appeared in Whatcom County court for the first time earlier Tuesday. He is accused of malicious harassment of another student. He was ordered to be held in jail in lieu of $10,000 bail; he posted bail Tuesday night.
Prosecutors say Campbell posted racist threats targeting students of color on Yik Yak, a social media platform, where users can post anonymous comments.
Student Body President Belina Seare says hateful messages poured in targeting her and other students after they were named in a discussion about possibly changing the school’s mascot. Some of the comments referenced lynchings and a picture of a gun.
“Some of these comments were racially charged death threats and threats of sexual violence against me,” Seare said.
Western Washington canceled classes after those threats, launching an intense investigation leading to Campbell’s arrest. The University Police Department is investigating other recent online messages specifically targeting black students.
“Although it was a horrible thing that happened, they handled it very well,” student Austyn Lawrenson said.
Despite the arrest, the mood on campus is still very tense.
“Just walking down the street, you can tell people are just not as friendly; maybe they are cautious to talk to you,” student Shannon Jack said.
Campbell’s brother and ex-girlfriend say it’s shocking to see the 19-year-old honor student in court.
They called his actions an innocent mistake.
“People who do know him are in shock and in disbelief, not anything he would actually do, he didn’t mean anything, no harm intended, anything he might have done, it was solely a joke, it was full of sarcasm,” brother Morgan Campbell said.
“I am a Hispanic, my whole family is Hispanic and you know he’s been with me for a long time. I have known him since I was 10 years old, never would he do something like that or go through with something like that,” ex-girlfriend Diana Cortes said.
Prosecutors have until Wednesday to charge Campbell with malicious harassment. The university suspended Campbell and barred him from the school. The family says Campbell is a pole vaulter with the track and field team at the university. They are hoping Western Washington will give him a second chance after all of this.
Q13 FOX News reached out to the person speaking on behalf of the alleged victims. The spokesperson said the people involved did not have any comments on Campbell’s arrest.