Univ. of Chicago threat: Suspect arrested, report says plot was retaliation for ’14 shooting

CHICAGO,  Federal authorities arrested a suspect Monday believed to be responsible for posting an online threat against the University of Chicago campus, where classes were canceled after word came of possible violence.

The University of Chicago closed its Hyde Park campus Monday after the FBI received warning of a credible threat. Photo courtesy the University of Chicago
The University of Chicago closed its Hyde Park campus Monday after the FBI received warning of a credible threat. Photo courtesy the University of Chicago

 

An unknown person alerted the FBI to an online threat that specifically mentioned the campus quad, an open area and walkway between college campus buildings. The threat indicated violence would take place Monday at 10 a.m.

Investigators said specifically, the threat was to kill 16 white male students or faculty in retaliation for the shooting of Laquan McDonald, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

In October 2014, McDonald was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer in an incident last year that left the 17 -year-old black teen dead. The officer who shot the teen was charged with murder last week.

Apparently, a New York resident who saw the threatening post online contacted authorities. The threat said the suspect would kill students, staff and police and then himself at the campus Monday morning, the Tribune reported.

“Based on the FBI’s assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country, we have decided in consultation with federal and local law enforcement officials to exercise caution by canceling all classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus through midnight on Monday,” university President Robert Zimmer said in an email sent to all students, faculty and staff.

The online threat, which was detailed verbatim by the Chicago Tribune, was written by a poster who gave their initials as “JRD.”

Later Monday, the FBI said it had arrested a suspect, who was identified by the University of Illinois as a student of its Urbana-Champaign campus. The student was not immediately identified by name, however.

Zimmer said the school’s police and security presence would be strengthened, with security personnel visibly carrying weapons. The school would also maintain close contact with the FBI.

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the libraries, the Quadrangle Club Student Health and Counseling services and other campus facilities were also closed Monday. The University of Chicago Medical Center was scheduled to remain open.

Northwestern University, with campuses in Evanston, Ill. and Chicago, will be open but with an increased security presence.

By Ed Adamczyk and Doug G. Ware

UPI NEWS