Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Western Update and FAQ [Posted 8:15 a.m. 3/28]
March 28, 2008
[Posted 8 a.m. 3/28/08]
MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University-Macomb campus resumed regular operations as of 8 a.m. today (March 28); however, additional officers from the Office of Public Safety are on campus to provide an extra measure of security.
Students who have personal concerns should contact the University Counseling Center at
309/298-2453. Individuals with information about the anonymous threat should contact the WIU Office of Public Safety (OPS) at 309/298-1949 or Macomb Area Crimestoppers at 309/836-3222. If the information provided leads to an arrest, the caller may be eligible for a cash reward up to $1,000 from Crimestoppers. Additional donations have been made bringing the total cash reward for any information leading to an arrest to nearly $5,000. The WIU Office of Public Safety is currently reviewing the possibility of setting up its own crime-tip hotline.
Video of the March 27 press conference is available at youtube.com/WesternIllinoisU. Audio of the March 26 press conference is available at Tri States Public Radio at www.publicbroadcasting.net/wium/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1250375.
An FAQ list addressing the many questions the University has received following this incident is attached below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What time was the letter found?
A: The letter was found by a Campus Manor employee in the apartment complex's drop box shortly before 8:30 a.m. March 26.
Q: What did the letter say?
A: "There will be a shooting today all around campus. Make the right decision. Bang. Bang."
Q: What time was the campus notified of the threat?
A: Macomb Police Department personnel contacted the WIU Office of Public Safety at 8:30 a.m. March 26. OPS alerted WIU administration immediately and by 9:30 a.m. a Timely Warning was posted and an emergency alert message was launched on WIU's Emergency Alert System.
Q: How many messages were sent via the emergency alert system?
A: 5,349 text messages; 16,690 voice messages; 22,142 e-mails were sent to faculty, staff and students on the Macomb campus.
Q: Why didn't the University close?
A: When a situation such as this occurs, the University assesses the unique circumstances surrounding each situation, in direct consultation with campus security and other agencies if needed. University administration believed it was necessary to keep campus open in order to send a strong message to possible future "copycats," and also to underscore that such threats will not be tolerated. The University recognized, however, that some students and employees might not feel comfortable coming to campus to attend classes or work; therefore, a statement was issued that an individual who was not comfortable coming to campus, could stay home and would not be penalized for missing class/work. We will, of course, review our decision carefully and will assess future responses to such circumstances.
Q: How was the threat viewed by University administrators?
A: Any threat is taken seriously, which is why a Timely Warning was distributed and an emergency alert was issued. In addition, the University asked local police agencies (McDonough County Sheriff's Department, Macomb Police and the Illinois State Police) to assist Western's Office of Public Safety in enhancing patrol and security on the WIU campus. Increased patrol continues through today (March 28). Entrances to WIU residence halls were also locked and accessible only to residents with keys, which will continue until further notice.
Q: How is the investigation progressing?
A: Western's Office of Public Safety continues to work with local police agencies to investigate this incident. People with any information should contact the Office of Public Safety at 309/298-1949 or the Macomb Police Department at 309/833-4505. In addition, people with information may also call Macomb Area Crimestoppers at 309/836-3222. If the information provided leads to an arrest, the caller may be eligible for a cash reward up to $1,000 from Crimestoppers. Additional donations have been made which would make the total award nearly $5,000 for information leading to an arrest. The WIU Office of Public Safety is currently reviewing the possibility of setting up its own crime-tip hotline.
Q: I signed up for the WIU emergency alert system but didn't receive a message.
A: Please check your information on the system's log-in page. The system's database currently holds phone numbers and WIU e-mail addresses from existing personnel and student files. Students, faculty and staff should enter -- and review for accuracy -- supplemental emergency contact information at www.wiu.edu/alertsystem and click on "Sign Up" located on the left sidebar. To sign in, each member of the WIU community can enter his/her nine-digit WIU ID (with no spaces or dashes) and WIU e-mail address. Individuals may enter up to six telephone numbers - - students, this can include parents; a number to receive a text message; and two e-mail addresses.
A minor issue has been identified as a result of the system's use on March 26. Some offices and individual contacts did not receive a message by phone, text or e-mail. This issue has been identified and is being resolved through the vendor.
Q: I received the message but didn't know what to do.
A: The message stated there was an anonymous threat of possible shootings and to visit www.wiu.edu for more information. Had there been a crisis such as a shooter on campus, instructions would have been included in the alert message. For example, "Remain in your classroom or residence hall room." In addition, we are reviewing wording of any future messages as we work with our new emergency alert system.
Posted By: Darcie Shinberger, University Relations
Phone: (309) 298-1993 * Fax: (309) 298-1606