Area Colleges Increase Patrols in Light of Threat

The FBI issued an alert over the weekend that there could be an act of violence Monday afternoon for a local college, not naming the specific school. NBC10’s Deanna Durante was on campus at the University of Pennsylvania. She has the latest reaction from students. (Published Monday, Oct. 5, 2015)

In light of a threat that put Philadelphia-area colleges and universities on high alert Monday, officials at several schools said that while security was noticeably increased, it was business as usual on campuses.

In spite of scattered reports on social media and anecdotes that some students opted to stay home from classes due to the threat, university staffers at several colleges reported that while police and campus-safety patrols were increased, it was a normal Monday otherwise.

Temple University spokesman Raymond Betzner said on the school's North Philadelphia campus, everything seemed to be going on as usual early Monday afternoon.

"Aside from the fact that there's clearly a higher-level police presence, it's a regular Monday," Betzner said. "Students are out ... and going from one class to another. So it's what you would expect on Temple's campus."

Just after 2 p.m., the time specified in the warning put out to area schools by the FBI, though, an editor at Temple's student newspaper, The Temple News, posted a tweet showing a deserted Liacouras Walk, a popular campus walkway.

No incidents were reported during the day.

At Rutgers University's Camden campus across the Delaware River, it was the same story: Mike Sepanic, the school's associate chancellor for external relations, said Rutgers Police increased patrols and were much more visible on campus.

"Other than that, we're open, operating on a normal schedule," Sepanic said late Monday morning. "I was out on campus a few times this morning, and for the most part, it looks and feels like a regular Monday morning. People are certainly talking about this, but I'm not getting a sense of panic, if you will, just more recognition that this is out there."

At Rowan College at Gloucester County in South Jersey, police kept a watchful eye on campus.

News of the threat surfaced on Sunday when the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms issued the following alert to all area colleges and universities:

Out of an abundance of caution, the FBI Philadelphia Field Office notified local colleges and universities of a social media posting which threatened violence at a Philadelphia-area college or university for Monday, October 5.

No specific college or university was identified in the posting. We encourage students, faculty, and employees at area colleges and universities to follow the guidance of their campus security officials. 

Colleges and universities in the Philadelphia region were put on alert Monday morning after a threatening post on social media was found. NBC10’s Matt DeLucia has more details about this threat and what schools are doing about it. (Published Monday, Oct. 5, 2015)

The FBI will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to investigate threats of violence, and, as always, we ask the public to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Drexel University alerted their students and staff of the threat in a post on their Public Safety page.

In an email sent to the university community Monday morning, Drexel President John Fry advised students, faculty and staff to be sure to carry their Drexel IDs at all times, as they would be required to enter any campus buildings.

"The safety of our students and employees is our top priority every day, and Drexel Police and Public Safety have increased the level of security on our campuses in several ways," Fry wrote.

"Colleges and universities have been the target of instances of unconscionable violence in recent years, and we must be vigilant about the safety and security of Drexel's campuses," Fry continued. "Please know that Drexel devotes significant resources to creating a safe and secure environment."

A Drexel spokeswoman said the school was keeping students up to date via its public safety website on Monday.

At the nearby University of Pennsylvania, campus safety patrols were also increased, according to an email from Vice Provost Vincent Price and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli sent to students and faculty Monday morning. The email also said the Division of Public Safety at the university increased its virtual CCTV patrols.

"Our ability to predict these kinds of threats in today's world is extremely limited, but our community can depend on the fact that at Penn we have a highly trained police department," the email said in part. "We also have the highest level of electronic security, including a state-of-the-art CCTV system that we use interactively with our police and security officer patrols."

At suburban Villanova University, spokesman Jonathan Gust echoed other university officials. He said students were out and about on campus, and that the university increased its own public-safety patrols and was working alongside the Radnor Police Department to keep a close eye on the campus.

"We've in an abundance of caution increased patrols, Gust said.

An online threat against Philadelphia area colleges and universities prompted a warning from the FBI and ATF. NBC10's Doug Shimell speaks to local students who are on edge in the wake of the deadly shooting at an Oregon community college. (Published Monday, Oct. 5, 2015)

Authorities stressed that there was no specific threat to a particular college or university.

Officials have not revealed where they found the threat. However, several reports have mentioned a post on the popular imageboard website 4chan in which a user writes,"On October 5, 2015 at 1:00 PM CT, a fellow robot will take up arms against a university near Philadelphia. His cries will be heard, his victims will cower in fear, and the strength of the Union will decay a little more."

News of the threat comes only a few days after a gunman killed nine people and injured nine others before taking his own life at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon.