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'Just really sad and horrifying’: UF student arrested after threatening mass shooting at Virginia Tech

BOWLING GREEN, Fl. – A Florida college student is in jail after threatening to commit a violent massacre at Virginia Tech.

Police arrested 36-year-old James Kelly, a University of Florida student living in Bowling Green, Florida, on Monday at his home for written threats to “kill, do bodily injury or conduct a mass shooting or act of terrorism,” according to an arrest report from the Bowling Green Police Department.

His arrest came after police received copies of emails Kelly had sent to another student. In them, he claimed he’s a “prophet from god," is determined to “become a terrorist and die for this cause” and was planning a mass shooting at Virginia Tech.

Kelly has been banned from Florida’s campus for the past two years and he’s under investigation by the university for harassment and sexual harassment.

Kelly also said he’d been involuntarily admitted to a mental institution around the time of the Parkland school shooting in 2018 and had called Virginia Tech back then to threaten the school.

10 News talked with Virginia Tech students on Wednesday who said it’s a sensitive subject on campus.

“It’s just really sad and horrifying. But I don’t know, I feel safe to be here in Virginia Tech. I just wish there is less people doing this kind of stuff and threatening people and campus shootings; these are miserable," said Virginia Tech senior Mike Zhong.

They’ve always felt safe on campus, but the threat makes them nervous.

“I’m thinking this is a really bad thing for students. We have come here for knowledge and campus life, but hearing things like this makes me feel like we are not really safe," said Virginia Tech senior Jeremy Song.

The Independent Florida Alligator, the school newspaper at the University of Florida, said Kelly has a history of harassment and violent threats, including online threats to rape UF students.

The paper also reported that Kelly allegedly demanded the release of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooter’s manifesto.

Kelly is being held at the Hardee County Jail on $5,000 bond.

A Virginia Tech spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the investigation but did say the school is always willing to assist other law enforcement agencies and thoroughly reviews potential threats.

About the Author:

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!