Eastern Kentucky University cancels classes, cites threat

AP News
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Posted: Oct 07, 2015 1:58 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Eastern Kentucky University canceled classes for the rest of the week because of an escalating threat after the discovery of graffiti that threatened to "kill all" this week, campus officials said Wednesday.

The school's public safety office said there was no evidence of imminent danger but reported "an escalation in the threat, originating from social media." Police presence around the campus in Richmond, Kentucky, has increased, the office said.

School officials did not immediately identify the nature of the social media threat. University spokeswoman Kristi Middleton declined additional comment, citing the ongoing police investigation.

The campus threats surfaced in recent days. On Monday, campus police issued a public safety alert after menacing graffiti was found in a student center bathroom on campus. The graffiti said: "Kill All By 10/8/15."

University President Michael Benson said Wednesday the goal was to limit safety risks while assessing the threats.

"While we are confident the responding team of law enforcement agencies has kept a watchful eye over our community and is diligently investigating the threat, it has become clear this incident continues to be unsettling to a number of our students, faculty and staff," Benson said in a campus message.

Classes also were canceled on EKU's satellite campuses in the region. The school has about 16,900 students.

The disruption comes during midterm exams. Full campus operations will resume next Wednesday, following the school's scheduled fall break on Monday and Tuesday, Benson said.

"I know a lot of people that are actually pretty terrified by this," said Christopher Payton, editor-in-chief of The Eastern Progress, the campus newspaper. "I've been walking around campus and everyone is packing their bags and leaving."

Mike Mitchell made the hourlong drive from Mount Sterling, Kentucky, to pick up his daughter, Irisbel, a freshman at EKU. He said he thought school administrators made "the right call" in canceling classes as the investigation continues.

"This day and time, you never know," he said. "You have to take threats seriously."

Mitchell said his 18-year-old daughter was "ready to get away for a couple of days, just due to this situation."

Campus public safety officials said some special events might continue as planned with increased security. Campus police continue to follow up on tips and interview people as part of the investigation.

Authorities have been unable to substantiate a specific threat against a specific building, public safety officials said.

State and federal law enforcement agencies are also involved in the investigation, campus officials said.

The university is offering a $10,000 reward for an identification leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible.

The action comes in the wake of a recent shooting at an Oregon college. The shooter killed nine people and himself.