An online threat compared by police to one made before the deadly shooting in Oregon earlier this month triggered a lockdown on Friday that paralyzed the Waterloo, Ont., campus of Wilfrid Laurier University for several hours.
Campus was shut down at 6 a.m. and students and faculty were told to stay away after administrators were tipped off to the threat overnight by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the university’s president said.
The lockdown was lifted at 11:30 a.m., though the university said faculty and staff were not required to come back to work that day.
Police said the threat was made in an anonymous post on the online forum 4chan that used similar wording as a warning made before the Oct. 1 shooting at an Oregon college that left 10 people, including the shooter, dead.
A photo shared on Twitter showed a post that featured an image of a frog holding a gun and read: “Don’t go to laurier science building hall tomorrow. happening thread will be posted in the morning.”
A post that preceded the Oregon shooting read: “Don’t go to school if you are in the northwest. happening thread will be posted tomorrow morning.”
Police said they are still seeking the person responsible for the threat against Wilfrid Laurier University and there could be legal consequences.
“The initial investigation would indicate that we’re dealing with a posting from outside the country,” Supt. Pat Dietrich said.
He said it’s unclear what the poster’s intentions were, but the effect on the university was significant.
“I think if there’s an offence committed and the person can be located and identified, then there should be a consequence because to do something like this — and the type of impact it has — for absolutely no reason is just ridiculous,” he said.
The lockdown came during the fall term reading week, meaning fewer students, faculty and staff were on campus.
Students tweeted they were warned by text message shortly after 8 a.m.
“So thankful to be a part of an academic institution where safety is so important. Thanks WLU for the TEXT this morning re: lockdown,” one wrote.
Another said it was “aggravating” not to have more information about what was happening, while others expressed concern for their classmates and colleagues.