Classes at Delaware County Community College are canceled today - for a fourth day - while police try to find the person who issued threatening e-mails that hint of a Virginia Tech-style massacre.
"The e-mails were written by a rather disturbed individual who was threatening violence on a large scale," West Whiteland Police Sgt. Martin Malloy, who is investigating the threat, said yesterday. "He or she described a deed that would remind you of what happened at Virginia Tech." He would not elaborate.
The college suspended classes Thursday afternoon at all five of its campuses in Chester and Delaware Counties after receiving about a dozen threatening e-mails. The college has an enrollment of about 10,000 day students.
Malloy said the college would remain closed until authorities can assure the campuses are safe. "We are actively working the case," Malloy said. "Had this happened a month ago we would not be as concerned. But now, after Virginia Tech, we are taking this very seriously."
On April 16, Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded at least 15 during a campus rampage before he killed himself.
In a letter to students posted yesterday on the college Web site, college president Jerome S. Parker wrote: "A decision regarding reopening will not be made until we are assured by the authorities that it is safe to do so. The safety of our college community is of the utmost importance. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank our students, faculty and staff, along with our community, for your continuing patience and cooperation."
Fran Cubberley, associate vice president at the college, said police, the FBI and other agencies all recommended keeping the college closed. "They still don't know who the perpetrator is," she said.
Malloy said police planned to obtain a second search warrant today that could help them determine who made the threats.
Police also are interviewing faculty and staff to find who might have a grudge against the college. "We believe the person is associated with the college in some way," Malloy said.
Assisting the investigation are the Marple Township Police, the Chester County District Attorney's Office, Delaware County District Attorney's Office, the FBI, and other local authorities.
Meanwhile, a nearly two-week-old threat predicting a bombing at Pennsylvania State University, Abington, today prompted police to close the Montgomery County campus yesterday and sweep it with bomb-sniffing dogs. The campus was declared clear, the threat was found "not credible," school spokesman Chuck Marsh said, and the campus was to reopen today.
Abington police and campus police have been investigating the bomb threat scrawled on a bathroom wall that was discovered April 18. Parents and students were notified by e-mail the next day, Marsh said.
Marsh would not describe the specific wording of the threat; he said it was "vague" in referring to a bombing, but very specific with a date - April 30. Abington police will provide extra security at the campus today.