MARQUETTE - Students, faculty and staff at Northern Michigan University were continuing to readjust to their regular routines today in the wake of a threat against the school that shutdown the campus Wednesday.
Some of the school's 9,000-plus students left campus Wednesday, with many staying in their dorms with the blinds shut, as university officials instructed. At a news conference Thursday, NMU President Les Wong said there is still some concern in the community.
"Clearly we still have parents who are still worried about today, students who are still worried about today," Wong said.
Northern Michigan University President Les Wong, left, and Public Safety Director Mike Bath talk to reporters Thursday at a press conference about a threat investigation at the school. (Journal photo by John Pepin)
Wong was at Starbucks on campus Thursday morning talking with students and others, reassuring them.
"Even the president and the public safety staff is going to need some time to get readjusted to get back to normal. You just don't turn the switch off and go back to normal right away," Wong said. "We would not in any way consider opening up today without being confident and secure that the situation was safe."
Wong said there would be extra police patrols on campus throughout the day as further reassurance.
School officials said the threat the campus received Wednesday is part of a larger federal investigation of similar messages directed at other schools across the country.
The campus was shut down for the day after an out-of-state tipster called the university and alerted officials of an anonymous message posted on a blog site.
Police again Thursday declined to detail the content of the threat or the site where it appeared, as investigations at other schools remained active.
"Several other universities have received similar complaints or threats and the FBI has taken the lead on that," said Mike Bath, NMU director of public safety.
Bath confirmed the threats appear to be originating from a single source.
"There was a lot of similarities in the messages that were received at those universities, similar to the one that we received here," Bath said.
University officials said they learned about the threat before 8 a.m. Wednesday and began to shut down the campus, using various messaging systems.
Later in the day, police said a possible suspect had been developed and questioned. Investigators were focusing on those who might have had a grievance against the university.
"Throughout our investigation it was determined we did have a person of interest," Bath said. "That person is no longer being looked at any longer and that is being cleared through the FBI."
Campus police are continuing to assist the FBI.
Wong said the university will review its procedures in the wake of the event and continue to refine them. He said no cost estimates had been calculated for the response effort.
"Right now I think the word 'priceless' comes to mind," Wong said. "You do what you have to do and I'm not going to worry about the cost at this point in time."
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.