At 2:07 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4, the Division of Public Safety sent out an advisory warning students that a threat of violence has been made against an unspecified university near Philadelphia, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The information regarding the threat did not specify a school, the Federal Bureau of Investigation told DPS, but mentioned the date Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 and the time 2 p.m. ET.
“This is about spreading the information that DPS prepares for any and all emergencies, not making students and staff anxious,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said. “We don’t take these things lightly and we feel that information is power and we want the Penn community to be aware."
The advisory comes at a time of heightened sensitivity to threats on college campuses, as a shooter at Umpqua Community College in Oregon killed 10 people and injured seven more just this past Thursday. The shooter reportedly indicated his planned violence in social media posts prior to the attack. Drexel University referenced the incident in a statement on its public safety site, noting that the identified threat to a Philadelphia school had also been made on social media. Drexel’s statement mentions that the FBI has seen similar social media postings throughout the country this week.
Rush pointed out that “near Philadelphia” is a very vague term and that students should go about their days as usual. Students should exercise regular levels of awareness, she said, and report any suspicious activity to DPS.
DPS has over 140 closed-circuit television systems, over 550 AlliedBarton officers and 118 Penn Police officers all working to ensure student safety. DPS will be increasing surveillance tomorrow, Rush said.
There will be additional uniformed presence on and around campus in the form of Penn Police and AlliedBarton officers. There will also be additional staff in the CCTV control room, Rush said.
DPS has been in contact with both the Philadelphia Police Department and other college and university security services in the region. Specifically, DPS and Rush have been in touch with First Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. of the Philadelphia Police Department to ensure the whole city is upping awareness and scope of patrol during the period of time specified by the ATF.
Request for comment from the ATF was not returned before press time. A representative from the FBI responded to a request for comment in an email reiterating the announcement and that students should follow the guidelines of their public safety officials. UA President Jane Meyer sent an email to undergraduate students on Sunday at 11:39 p.m. calling attention to the UPenn Advisory and DPS services.
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