Illinois college closed after threat of violence

CHICAGO Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:19am EST

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Northern Illinois University was closed on Monday after the school received an anonymous threat, including a racial slur, that referenced the Virginia Tech shootings in April, according to a university statement.

NIU said in a statement on its Web site that the threat was scrawled on a restroom wall in a residence hall. The note warned that "things will change most hastily" in the final days of the current semester.

The DeKalb, Illinois, university on Sunday notified students, faculty and staff through postings on the school Web site, e-mail, voicemail, fliers and news media.

"My primary concern is for the safety of all members of our campus community, and to that end, we will err on the side of caution in all our actions," said NIU President John Peters in a statement.

A NIU spokesperson was not available for further comment on Monday. Campus police gave no update beyond the information on the Web site.

The threat, discovered on Saturday, made reference to a shooting at Virginia Tech by a student who killed 32 people including himself in April.

The university initially said final exams scheduled for this week would proceed as planned. But a later campus alert said the school would be closed on Monday due to icy streets and concerns about the threat.

Virginia Tech was criticized in the months following the shooting for being slow to notify students and faculty about two killings on campus hours before the later rampage that took 30 other lives.

Last week a 19-year-old gunman, opened fire from a balcony in a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska, killing eight people and himself.

(Reporting by Kyle Peterson; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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