Michigan College Student Posts Pic of New Rifle, Ends Up Charged With Felony Making Terroristic Threats
Sault Ste Marie, Michigan – The United States Constitution guarantees certain rights to all US citizens: among them are freedom of speech and the right to keep and bear arms. But a case in Michigan has placed college student Lucas Gerhard in jeopardy of losing all of those rights and then some.
Lucas, 20, was a Law Enforcement student at Lake Superior State University (LSSU), a school of approximately 2,000 students in Michigan. Until August, 2019, that is. Someone outside his friends list took a screenshot of a Snapchat post of his new rifle, and told authorities that she “felt” threatened. Her subjective emotions landed him in jail. He was arrested on a Felony charge of making terroristic threats (Michigan Penal Code 750.543m). He faces 20 years in prison.
The incident occurred on August 22, 2019. When two student Resident Assistants (RAs) saw his Snapchat post, one of them took a screenshot and the two reported the post to the safety office. Que the hysterical reaction …after the fact.
Police descended on Lucas’ dorm room, and searched both the room and his car – with his permission. Lucas cooperated with police.
His father, Mark, is a retired Colonel of Marines who drove 5 hours to reach his son when he heard about the room being searched. At first he didn’t think it was going to be anything to worry about. “Surely people are rational” was his thought process. When he arrived, he and his son had the run of the campus, and strolled around going anywhere they wanted.
The school apparently didn’t notify the students about a ‘threat,’ as there was no notification of a lockdown, no shelter in place. They specifically stated, “our students were never in danger, staff faculty no one was in danger.” (9and10news). When some of the students were asked by local media about what happened, they hadn’t heard anything about it. If Lucas was such a huge terroristic threat, why was nothing said until significantly after the incident?
“While this is playing out in real time, the school wasn’t seeing this as a general public safety concern. It was only afterwards when they decided that they were going to pursue this along with the prosecutor.” Mark Gerhard,Colonel, USMC, Retired
Lucas is a fearless Conservative, a rare person in a liberal environment. His father said Lucas, an Eagle Scout, had ideological debates previously with some of the students. Ironically, Lucas had contact with his accuser previously over those differences of opinion. The complainant in this case had actually been blocked by Lucas when the person became increasingly antagonistic. There had never been any violence, just disagreements over political viewpoints. But did those times “red flag” him as a problem? We believe that is exactly what happened.
The search, the charge, the preliminary hearing
The AR, approximately 700 rounds of ammunition in two metal ammo boxes, three 30 round magazines (all of which were properly locked up at the LSSU Public Safety Armory per school rules), were taken into custody by the investigating officer. Additionally, a police baton Lucas used for his law enforcement training, the detached AR bayonet/utility knife, 2 small bladed knives, and a spring loaded BB pistol were confiscated from Lucas’ room after the search.
The rifle and ammunition themselves were not readily accessible. The police officer who testified said Lucas was “hesitant” to turn over the weapons they took from him, but did so anyway.
In reality, Lucas had just arrived and had not yet begun to unpack most of his gear. When police suddenly appeared and searched his room, it took him a minute to register where all the items were after getting over the shock of what he was being accused of. But Lucas fully complied with the search of his room and his car.
Wouldn’t YOU be hesitant?
Lucas was denied bond, and spent 83 days in the Chippewa County Jail (with 4 others charged with the same code and 12 others some of whom were career criminals). He was finally released on $200,000 bond and tethered. He was remanded to the custody of his father and essentially under house arrest on November 13.
The bond provisions, which are fairly withering for a 20 year old young man, also stipulated that Lucas have no contact with the internet, including smart phones, and cannot leave the home unless going to a doctor’s appointment or legal appointment. All weapons and ammunition, including Col. Gerhard’s Mameluke sword, were required to be removed from the home as well.
Two RAs (Residential Assistants in the dorms) saw the post and informed the public safety office at LSSU.
“I seen the picture, and when he said, like, make the snowflakes melt, it kind of made me assume that, um, kind of like as with the gun and shoot other like civilians and stuff with it.” LB From the court transcript
LSSU also received a “scattering” of anonymous calls. The calls effectively set Lucas up to be targeted when he posted the photo on Snapchat.
“There was a scattering of “anonymous” reports on Lucas at LSSU, most indicators pointing to liberal antagonists. Many times the school never even informed Lucas of the accusations..
The most interesting fact surrounding these anonymous reports was that Lucas was never disciplined by LSSU for any of it, and it was viewed by Lucas more of a form of harassment by leftist activists than anything else.
Lucas’ car was vandalized in the school parking lot at some point last year, and after calling the school myself, it was abundantly clear that there was no serious investigation. Lucas had provided a name of an informant who told him the guilty party, an apparently very liberal leftist feminist activist on campus. To my knowledge and from what I gathered from the Dean of Students at the time, neither person was ever interviewed by the housing director.” Mark Gerhard (Colonel, USMC Retired)
Within the preliminary hearing transcript was a reference to an incident in April of 2019 in which Lucas took a selfie in front of an American flag and made a remark about feeling like he had enemies on campus. The deputy assistant prosecutor specifically worded her questions to the officer who responded to paint Lucas in a negative light. Her mindset is obvious – she doesn’t believe any civilian should have guns. She wrangled the officer into saying that Lucas’ Conservative beliefs might be “extreme.”
Stereotyping all Conservatives as having “extreme” beliefs is a theme frequently pushed by the Democrats. This time, it has the potential to destroy a promising young man’s life.
She also threatened to add a charge of “firearm in the commission of a felony” to his charges unless he pleaded guilty. He’s not pleading guilty.
Being a Conservative under those circumstances would be daunting for anyone, and make anyone feel as if they were being attacked constantly by people who hate him. Even some of his Conservative friends agreed with his stand, but didn’t want to ‘rock the boat.’ It is evident by the charges currently against Lucas Gerhard that he was correct… there was no point of reason, no place of understanding for him. His hopes and dreams have been destroyed by stereotypes and plans of the left.
A defense motion to dismiss the charges is set for March 24th. The trial is set to resume on April 15.
“I never thought our society was so fragile. That somebody’s life could be ruined for telling a joke among friends.” Rep. John Reilly
A faulty terrorist code
The Michigan statute for terroristic threats states: “(2) It is not a defense to a prosecution under this section that the defendant did not have the intent or capability of committing the act of terrorism.
(3) A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than
20 years or a fine of not more than $20,000.00, or both.”
On other words, intent cannot be used as a defense against these charges. The statute is unnecessarily broad, according to one of his attorneys. On Feb 11, Michigan lawmakers introduced a bill in Lansing to tighten the definition of a terroristic threat based upon what happened to Lucas in this case. They don’t want this to happen again.
Retired Marine Col. Mark Gerhard is talking about his son, 20 y/o LSSU student Lucas Gerhard.
Lucas is facing trial on making a false report or threat of terrorism charges after posting a photo of his AR-15 with a caption of “this outta make the snowflakes melt.” pic.twitter.com/x8k2MXKyTi
— Mikenzie Frost (@MikenzieFrost) February 11, 2020
“This is a gross miscarriage of justice. This shouldn’t happen to you, Lucas. You’re a nice guy. You didn’t do anything wrong for exercising your Second Amendment right and talking about it with your First Amendment right.” Rep. Beau LaFave of Marquette (9and10news)
This debacle has been expensive for the Gerhards. A friend started a GoFundMe to help them with attorney fees, and they could sincerely use the help.
We will stay on top of this case and keep you posted.
Featured photo: Lucas Gerhard on November 13 – photo provided