Breaking News: Serious threat closes university

NW Staff

NMU closed yesterday, Feb. 2, after university authorities were alerted of a blog that said the author would shoot students on campus and kill more people than the Virginia Tech shootings. The university was evacuated around 8:30 a.m. and was closed and on lockdown for the remainder of the day while police officials investigated the situation.
Students, faculty and staff were notified by emergency alert text message, e-mail and with banners on all main NMU pages.

“Campus safety is and will continue to be our prime motive. Upon receipt of a possible threat we activated our emergency response protocol as we took this threat extremely seriously,” said President Les Wong at a press conference earlier in the day. “No one ever wants to confront these types of threats, but we were prepared.”

Local k-12 schools were closed between 10 and noon, letting students out early in response to the threat. Marquette General Hospital was also placed on lock down, only have five operating entrances all patrolled by police officers.

Students were informed around noon that Public Safety had the situation under control, but buildings remained on lockdown. Students in the dorms were allowed to go to the dining halls but asked not to leave otherwise. Though during the press conference at 3:30, it was said that because they had not identified a suspect, it was still considered an ongoing investigative.

Rumors were found on various social networking sites, including Twitter and Facebook. During the day, some students were afraid there was a hostage situation on campus.

“At no time did we have a hostage situation on campus,” said Director of Public Safety and Police Services Mike Bath during the press conference.

Bath said that police officials were speaking to a couple of individuals, students and nonstudents, but all lived in the county. He didn’t provide many specifics to protect the investigation.

Students received a message again at 8:12 p.m. that there was no longer an imminent threat and that “normal business operations” would resume today, Feb. 3.

Police agencies, who were involved in the investigations, including the FBI, identified that the threat was not made on campus and that a similar threat that had been made to other universities. Though they are continuing investigations to learn more about what happened, the various agencies have concluded that students are safe to attend classes today, though Public Safety patrols will be increased as an added precaution.

“We would never open the campus if we did not feel like it was safe to go to class and to go to work. We just wouldn’t do that,” said Cindy Paavola, director of NMU marketing and communications.

ASNMU President Courtney Russell provided a statement earlier in the day, encouraging students to be cooperative with the police and to be appreciative of how the university handled the difficult situation.

“We are lucky to have Public Safety and the rest of the police force working hard at keeping us, the students of Northern, safe,” she said.