On Thursday evening, campus police said all buildings on Northern Illinois University’s campus in DeKalb are being evacuated after the school received a bomb threat. All classes have been canceled at NIU campuses tonight, although a basketball event scheduled in the convocation center is being held.
An alert on the Northern Illinois University (NIU) official website at 6:45 p.m. instructed all branch campuses to evacuate until further notice. The alert also included NIU satellite campuses in Rockford, Hoffman Estates and Naperville. The alert further requested that people should stay beyond 500 feet of all campus buildings. NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips confirmed a bomb threat, but did not provide details. Students and staff at the main campus were instructed to report to the NIU Convocation Center.
In a statement on the NIU website, school officials said the threat appears to be a hoax and one of a series of bogus bomb threats called into a number of colleges and universities across the region. However, to ensure the safety of students, police are conducting a building-by-building search before allowing anyone back into buildings.
“We are taking no chances with the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” NIU President Doug Baker said. “We apologize for the inconvenience but clearly must err on the side of caution.”
Earlier Thursday evening, about 50 students at DePaul University’s O’Hare campus were briefly evacuated after the university received a bomb threat, but nothing was found when police checked the building and classes were allowed to resume, a DePaul University spokeswoman said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) issued a warning to Philadelphia area colleges and universities on Sunday evening to be on “high alert” after the discovery of an online threat of violence made against a campus for Monday, October 5. The joint FBI/ATF bulletin came just three days after a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, one week ago that killed nine people and wounded several others. The gunman then turned the gun on himself.
After U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed on Thursday’s shooting by his Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco, he expressed both anger and frustration over gun violence during a press conference and criticized the political system that he believes has failed to permit even modest changes to gun laws.
In an unprecedented move, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) issued a warning to Philadelphia area colleges and universities on Sunday to be on “high alert” after the discovery of an online threat of violence made against a campus for Monday, October 5, at some point in the afternoon.
The joint FBI/ATF bulletin comes just three days after a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, killing nine people and wounding several others before turning the gun on himself. After U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed on Thursday’s shooting by his Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco, he expressed both anger and frustration over gun violence during a press conference and the political system that he believes has failed to permit even modest changes to gun laws.
Legislators have failed to enact laws aimed at reducing the number of school shootings. The ongoing debate over civil rights vs. public safety resurfaced in September, after a high school teen in Texas was taken into police custody after a teacher mistook a homemade clock for a bomb and called police. The teacher was criticized by the White House and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan who said young engineers like Ahmed Mohamed should be encouraged not put in handcuffs. Secretary Duncan tweeted, #IStandWithAhmed. Mohamed’s father accused the school of racial profiling because the student is a Muslim.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s role in protecting public space, including schools is limited. The “If You See Something Say Something” public awareness campaign, which encourages all American citizens to report anything deemed as “suspicious behavior” no matter how insignificant it may seem has not been effective. In 2014, Florida’s Miami-Dade County Public Schools became the first school district in the nation and the only one to date to officially adopt the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something,” campaign.
Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Justice implemented a plan based on the “lessons learned” and has reached out to federal state, local and campus law enforcement agencies to offer training including active shooter exercises to educators. The efforts to protect students have fallen short as lawmakers continue to struggle with how to grapple with the spike in school shootings across the country.