Police: McKelvey claims she’s received death threats; Former Student Org prez defends her
By: Rebecca Panico | Published Dec. 2, 2015
The Union Township Police Department confirmed that Kayla-Simone McKelvey called Kean University police yesterday after she claimed that she received death threats.
McKelvey, 24, was charged on a third-degree count of creating a false public alarm after allegedly posting threats to Twitter that threatened to shoot black students and claimed that a bomb was on campus, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park said in a statement yesterday.
Kean University Police contacted the Union Township police about her claims, said Union Township Police Capt. Scott Breslow, and she was referred to make a report with their department. Capt. Breslow said as of this morning, she had not done so.
“We’re focusing patrols in the area of her home, but it’s not a big post like 24 hours or anything like that,” he said today. He later added: “Until we get a written report from her we’re not investigating.”
McKelvey, a self-proclaimed activist, allegedly left a Nov. 17 rally in support of University of Missouri students, made the Twitter threats on a library computer and then returned to the rally to spread word of the threats, the prosecutor said.
Kean University President Dawood Farahi yesterday said he was “saddened” by the prosecutor’s announcement.
“As a diverse academic community, we wholeheartedly respect and support activism, however, no cause or issue gives anyone the right to threaten the safety of others,” his statement read. “We hope this information will begin to bring a sense of relief and security to the campus community.”
Meanwhile, former Student Organization President Gerard Smithwrick publicly defended McKelvey yesterday on his Facebook profile yesterday.
“KAYLA MCKELVEY IS INNOCENT,” Smithwrick wrote in all caps. “That is my sister, not by blood but in by heart, and I know her very very well. She has been ‘accused’ but there is no specific proof which directly links her to this crime, and of all people, she would NEVER do anything like this.”
Smithwrick, who graduated with McKelvey in May, said as soon he heard about her charges he called to see how she was doing.
“It’s tough, it’s definitely tough for her,” Smithwrick, who is black, told The Tower today. “She’s a Kean graduate. Her name, her reputation is all over the news. It’s only an accusation. She has not been found guilty.”
Last March, McKelvey, who was the Pan African Student Union (PASU) president at the time, publicly denounced Smithwrick’s office at a protest when she claimed that the Student Organization denied her requests to fund trips during Black History Month.
She also claimed that an unnamed psychology professor at Kean made racially charged remarks to an unnamed student.
Smithwrick said the two had been friends before that protest. After the March protest the two remained friends because they had had conversations that were “just really positive,” he said.
Administrators and McKevelvy both confirmed last semester that she had not filled out any paperwork requesting the trips. McKelvely said she did not fill out the paperwork because PASU’s professional staffer, Vice President of Student Affairs Janice Murray-Laury, had told her it would be difficult to receive additional funds.
Neither administrators nor last semester’s protesters revealed the name of the accused psychology professor or the name of the student.
“There was certainly some misunderstanding — there was a miscommunication — but it has been addressed directly,” Laury said last March, adding that the professor faced no disciplinary action.
McKelvey was voted Homecoming queen last year. She graduated with a degree in physical education, a university spokeswoman said.
McKelvey is set to make a first appearance in the case on Dec. 14 at the Union County Jail courtroom.