Jabari Dean, 21, was charged with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, according to federal prosecutors, and could face five years in prison if convicted, officials said, though the FBI determined he did not have the means to carry it out.
In the threat, Dean allegedly said that he would arrive on the campus quad at 10 a.m. on Nov. 30, armed with an "M-4 Carbine" and "2 Desert Eagles."
"I will execute aproximately [sic] 16 white male students and or staff, which is the same number of time [sic] Mcdonald [sic] was killed," the threat read, according to court documents. "I then will die killing any number of white policemen that I can in the process. This is not a joke. I am to do my part to rid the world of the white devils. I expect you to do the same...."
According to the criminal complaint, the FBI was tipped off about the threat when someone reported Dean's alleged post to an unspecified social media site. The report was made on Nov. 29, but the comment had been posted the day before, on Nov. 28.
"The caller explained that the threatening comment had been posted in response to a video clip," the criminal complaint states.
The criminal complaint does not specify the nature of the video that Dean allegedly commented on. Chicago police released dash cam footage on Tuesday Nov. 24 of then-officer Jason Van Dyke allegedly shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times, including when he was on the ground. Van Dyke's lawyer Dan Herbert, urged the public not to rush to judgment about what the video showed.
"This is not a murder case," Herbert has said. "Despite what you heard in the courtroom, it's truly not a murder case and we feel we will be very successful in defending this case."
There have been protests throughout the city since the release of the video.
The comment originally posted by Dean had been removed by the time the FBI agent looked at the social media site, but based on a screenshot provided by the caller, the agent was able to call the unnamed service provider which maintains accounts posting comments to get the subscriber information for the person who posted the threat.
After the FBI came to his house, Dean allegedly admitted that he had posted the threat and taken it down "shortly after posting it."
The University of Illinois at Chicago, which is about eight miles north of the University of Chicago, has put out a statement confirming that one of its students was arrested in connection to "an investigation of threats made against students and staff at the University of Chicago."
The UIC statement noted that the person was a student living off campus.
On Sunday night, the University of Chicago announced that it would be closing campus today because of "an online threat of gun violence." Two other area schools announced that they would also be closed today, with one noting that the issue was its proximity to the University of Chicago rather than a different threat.
The University of Chicago released a statement early this evening confirming that classes will be held as scheduled and campus will be open on Tuesday.