THE INTERNET — Armed with a single Xbox controller, an assailant went on a rampage Tuesday at an online university, firing hundreds of virtual rounds at student avatars, and inflicting damage to the school’s “About” page and interactive flash animations.
“This is the worst assault on an online school in history,” said Chief Rick Portola, head of Allerman Online University’s virtual police department. “Our investigators are still browsing the campus for clues, but it looks like not a single e-course was immune from the attack.”
The suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Hal Grotto, a graduate student in the Digital Game Design program. The incident has left the online social networking communities in shock. “I didn’t know much about him,” tweeted Fahrid Mahmeel, who shares an internet provider with the alleged shooter. “I never suspected a guy with an IP address so close to mine could commit such a heinous act.”
“I’m scared to log-in,” said Myra Kimbleton, a third-year accounting student. “You never know when some lunatic with a Guitar Hero will force you offline.”
Although no motive for the shootings has been discovered, Grotto’s cyber girlfriend, Mary66884883336662009999, indicated she did note some changes in his behavior. “He altered his emoticon from a colon-and-right-parenthesis to a colon-and-left-parenthesis,” she stated in an online chat with authorities. “I texted him back, asking why the sadface. He replied with ‘AFK,’ and that’s the last I heard from him.”
In a announcement on the university’s MySpace page, President Cyrus Reed-Thompson said they will be temporarily relocating teachers to brick-and-mortar classrooms, where “students can interact face-to-face with their professors and classmates in this novel setting until the danger has passed.”
Grotto’s current geolocation is unknown. A reward of a new Intel Quad-Core Macintosh is being offered by the Video Editing department to anyone who can “capture and render him [harmless].”
An anonymous fan page devoted to the shooter has been put up on Facebook, challenging students to come up with their own lists of “the fifty most regrettable things you did at school.”