U of U official says chance student could detonate nuclear reactor ‘about as close to zero as you can get’

File photo: University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 22, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — University of Utah interim police chief Jason Hinojosa talked to reporters Thursday about a student’s arrest for allegedly threatening to detonate a nuclear reactor present on campus if the Utes lost Saturday’s football game.

Meredith Lile Uluave Miller, 21, was arrested Wednesday, four days after a social media post threat. She was charged on suspicion of threat of terrorism — a second-degree felony.

The Utes won over San Diego State, by the way, and there’s some question over whether Miller’s post was ever meant to be taken seriously.

So was the post just a joke?, Hinojosa was asked.

“You know, that’s a good question,” he said. “And under state law it doesn’t matter. Even if you’re completely incapable of carrying out the threat, or the threat is made but an attempt is not, it’s still the same charge. We’ve had several other threats in the past. So have other universities…So it’s just something that we’re taking very seriously.”

Miller was booked into jail. She has paid bail and been released.

“Now it’s a matter for the D.A. to decide whether or not to continue with charges,” Hinojosa said.

Charging documents say Miller “is an engineering student at the university and has knowledge of the nuclear reactor. The A/P (arrested person) is aware of where the reactor is located and attends class in the same building where the reactor is housed.”

So was there any real danger, reporters asked.

“It would be impossible to detonate the reactor on campus,” Hinojosa said. “To be clear, there are several safety measures in place. There’s security and surveillance in place, and there’s protocol for response in place. So the likelihood of this actually happening was about as close to zero as you can get.”

Hinojosa said he has not talked personally with Miller and is not part of the investigation, but “I would probably imagine there’s some regret or rethinking of the actions of that day.”

Even though the suspect is a student, he said, “they were still an adult, and there are some consequences for our actions, you know, when we when we come of age….

“Freedom of speech is one thing, but we still have responsibility in what we say. When things come to the level of causing this kind of concern, we have to take it seriously.”

Even it if was a joke, words have consequences, Hinojasa said.

“It’s a good message, and the message to the public or to the campus community, is when these threats come in, we take them very seriously. And we will arrest and we will let the District Attorney decide if charges are to be sought or not.”

As for the student’s continued enrollment at the University of Utah, “That’s an administrative matter for the dean of students and the university to figure out,” Hinojosa said. “We handle the criminal aspect of the university.”


  1. hinojosa using the court system to “send a message to students” is a poor decision by your investigating officer; any command level officers involved; and, your follow up response – yet another attempt by U of U police dept. to justify substandard performance.


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