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NDSU student said he'd use '2nd Amendment rights' against staff, court documents allege

Court records said Thomas William Walker Sayward bought a shotgun and pistol this spring in Fargo.

Thomas Sayward
Thomas William Walker Sayward.
Cass County Jail photo
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FARGO — A North Dakota State University graduate student is accused of threatening to exercise his "Second Amendment rights" against school employees and saying he would "terminate" a woman's life if he found them in a men's restroom, according to court documents.

Thomas William Walker Sayward, 38, of West Fargo, appeared Friday, June 10, in North Dakota’s federal court on one count of interstate threatening communications.

A criminal complaint filed Thursday details comments Sayward allegedly wrote in a survey received by NDSU on May 14. He claimed a university staff member is not tolerant or inclusive if a person does not belong to the “cult of the woke,” the complaint said. He called the staff member a tyrant and said they should be fired, the complaint said.

“The criminals employed at NDSU shall either be going to prison or I shall be exercising my Second Amendment rights in defense of my First and 14th Amendment rights against select criminal tyrants currently employed at NDSU,” Sayward allegedly wrote in the survey. “The only good tyrant is a dead tyrant, and if the federal (Department of Justice) is not going to deliver justice, then it is well within my rights to employ the Second Amendment against these tyrants at NDSU to reclaim and defend my (and others’) self-evident inalienable constitutionally protected First and 14th Amendment rights.”

In a May 28 survey, Sayward wrote: “If I find a female in the male locker room or restroom, I shall employ my Second Amendment right on the spot to terminate that person’s life in defense of my First Amendment right,” according to the complaint.

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Federal agents linked Sayward to the internet protocol address used to send the survey, the complaint said. Court records also said he bought a shotgun and pistol this spring in Fargo.

In a Tuesday interview with police, Sayward claimed the NDSU administration discriminated against him for his beliefs on transgender people, the complaint said. He denied any intentions to kill anyone and would only use violence in self-defense, the complaint said.

He was booked Friday into the Cass County Jail. He is represented by Christopher Bellmore of the federal public defender's office. The Forum was unable to contact the public defender's office by publication time.

The Forum reached out to NDSU regarding the incident. A spokesperson said the "matter is with law enforcement." The staff member called Sayward's claims against them false.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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