Temple’s Response to Online Threat Against a “University near Philadelphia”

During the afternoon of Sunday, 10/04/2015, Temple students and faculty received an email from Temple Police stating their concern over a threat posted online that caught the eye of both the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and the FBI.

The threat was posted to the social media site, 4Chan, on a message board consisting of members of the “Beta Rebellion.”

It read, in part: “On October 5, 2015 at 1:00 PM CT, a fellow robot will take up arms against a university near Philadelphia. His cries will be heard, his victims will cower in fear, and the strength of the Union will decay a little more.”

This post came just one day after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. That shooting was also accompanied by a threat on the same 4Chan page the night before which read, in part: “Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest.”

October 5, 2015 at 1:00 PM CT, or 2:00pm Eastern Standard Time, came and went without a reported act of mass, heinous violence anywhere on Temple’s campus. The fear of the post kept many students away from the university on Monday, as well as several professors who cancelled classes. As a precaution, the Temple Police Department nearly tripled its security presence on campus, but students were still not entirely pleased with how the university handled the situation.

“…if they think that something’s going to happen they shouldn’t have everybody go to class so that everybody could be effected by it when it does happen,” said student Sierra Hall, referring to both the university and the threat of violence respectively.

However, Charlie Leone, the head of campus safety at Temple, stated that even with the increased security, students were never in any immediate danger.

“This was very vague,” said Leone. “Thirty, forty universities could be included in that [threat]. So, for this day we balanced it to make it so students can come to class and feel safe, and the resources there, and the operation can function as normal.”

But, regardless of the university police force’s response, many parents felt unsafe with their child at school throughout the whole ordeal.

Sophomore Meghan Hill said her parents caught wind of the threat online and got in touch with her immediately. “My mom and dad were texting me,” said Hill, “they showed me the website, and they wanted me home. They really wanted me to go home.”

A lot of students also said they and their parents turned to social media to keep them updated on the events as they could have unfolded. However, many accounts delivered false information, which caused frustration for many.

“Some posts weren’t accurate and kind of sent people into this whole spin that made them more nervous,” continued Hill.

“I couldn’t pay attention to it,” said Sierra Hall. “It was just a lot of irrelevant information being spread around.”

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