The 20-year-old Harvard student accused of e-mailing a bomb threat that temporarily paralyzed the Cambridge campus earlier this week expressed deep remorse Wednesday after a federal judge ordered him to stay away from the university pending a criminal charge of sending a bomb hoax.
Eldo Kim faces up to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. His lawyer, Ian Gold, said after the brief hearing in Boston federal court that Kim was forthright with authorities and that he is regretful.
“He’s a very remorseful, shattered young man,” Gold said, saying Kim was under pressure, dealing with his studies and struggling with the three-year anniversary this month of his father’s death.
“He is someone who was forthright and certainly presents himself as very remorseful,” Gold said.
Kim, a native of South Korea who became a US citizen in the fifth grade, was released from federal custody Wednesday after agreeing to a $100,000 unsecured bond cosigned by his sister and an uncle. He must live with one of them until he secures his own residence.
Kim can return to Harvard only with the university’s permission to pick up items from his dorm room, and he must comply with other conditions, such as staying away from alcohol and refraining from any weapons or explosives.
“It’s really important that you comply with your conditions of release,” US Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein told Kim, who stood before her, appearing nervous. He wore black Harvard jogging pants and a gray T-shirt from his high school’s tennis team. He softly told Dein that he understood the conditions of his release.
Gold said that Kim’s father was a professor at a university in South Korea, and the family lived for a time in Washington state. Kim graduated from Kamiak High School in Washington’s Mukilteo School District in June 2012. He was selected as a National Merit finalist and was a member of the tennis and debate teams.
Gold said he could not characterize Kim’s intentions beyond saying he was under pressure and grieving his father. Kim had told investigators that he e-mailed the bomb hoax so that one of his final exams would be canceled, according to court records.
The bomb scare shook the campus Monday morning. Students and staff were ordered out of four buildings, and streets were closed as police swarmed the area. President Obama was briefed.
An FBI agent said in a sworn statement filed in court that Kim sent the threat and began walking to take his exam in one of the buildings that was being evacuated, but, “upon hearing the alarm, he knew that his plan had worked.”
Kim later admitted that he sent the anonymous e-mail to two Harvard officials, campus police, and the student newspaper, warning of “shrapnel bombs” in two of the four buildings, authorities said. Three buildings in Harvard Yard — Emerson, Thayer, and Sever halls — and the science center building just outside the yard, were evacuated just as 9 a.m. exams were beginning.
Authorities were led to Kim after determining that, though he used an anonymous e-mail and programs to hide his computer address, he used Harvard’s wireless network.
Harvard students said they were not surprised that a fellow student sent the bomb hoax to avoid finals, though those who knew Kim said they were surprised it was he who did so.
Saba Beridze, a sophomore from the country of Georgia who lives two floors below Kim, said he was a “normal, like, regular guy.”
“I don’t know how it happened to him,” she said. “Maybe he was stressed, and that’s why he wanted to postpone the final? But that definitely does not justify your behavior, because you affect so many people.”