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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Anonymous Shooting Threat Sparks Increased Security at Western Illinois University

A note left in a payment drop box at an off campus apartment complex, threatens that a shooting would occur at Western Illinois University, which in turn sparked heightened security and students have been informed they don't have to attend classes.
A worker at the off campus apartment complex found the note early Wednesday morning, notified authorities via the safety office at the school at 8:15 am, who in turn posted a news release on the University's website by 9:30am and activated Western's Emergency Alert System by (;45 am, which sends out e-mails and text messages and calls cell phones of the students.

That alert message informed the students of the threat and directed them to go to the University's website for more information.

Police patrols have been increased on the Western Illinois University campus and University officials are working with the Macomb police to find whoever is responsible for the threat.

Common areas of residential halls, which usually are not locked during the daytime, have been secured so only residents with keys can enter, although the school itself is not on lockdown.

According to the Western Illinois University website, students who wish to remain in their residence halls and apartments will not be penalized for missing classes today (March 26). Faculty and staff who wish to be absent should contact their supervisors.

The University's president, Al Goldfarb, says, "While this is an anonymous off-campus threat, it is imperative that we take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our students, staff and faculty."

Some students have decided not to attend classes because of fears stemming from the recent Northern Illinois University shooting that occurred on Valentines day, February 14, 2008, which killed five people and wounded 18 before turning the gun on himself.

One student, Evan Crum, who is a senior at WIU said he would not be stepping foot on campus, "I'm not going to class. I'm not taking any chances. Not after what happened at Northern."

Crum learned of the threat through the University's Alert System.

According to Crum, the majority of the students he had spoken with will also not be attending classes on Wednesday and he says, "Some people are going to class, but a lot aren't because of what's going on right now, what happened at Northern Illinois. A lot of people are really nervous."

Illinois State Police, the Macomb Police Department and the McDonough County sheriff's office are all working to increase security at the school and any unusual or suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the Office of Public Safety by calling 911 from any campus phone or 309-298-1949.

Some people think that University aged students should have weapons to defend themselves and every time there is a shooting threat or a school shooting, that argument gains traction.