1 in custody in threat at University of Chicago linked to Laquan McDonald shooting – Chicago Tribune
An online threat to kill 16 white male students or staff in retaliation for the shooting of Laquan McDonald forced the University of Chicago to cancel classes and close its Hyde Park campus Monday, the Tribune has learned, and one person was taken into custody in connection with the threat.
A student from another school, the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been arrested in connection with the threat. A statement from the FBI said charges were pending. Federal sources said the threat did not appear to be credible.
As the University of Chicago was eerily quiet Monday morning, more information emerged about the imminent threat, detailed in a police report obtained by the Tribune. On Sunday morning, a New York resident called the FBI to report a comment he saw on the website www.worldstarhiphop.com, posted in response to a video clip from the 1995 movie “Panther.”
The commenter threatened to shoot and kill students, staff and police on the campus at 10 a.m. Monday and then kill himself, citing the fatal shooting last year of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer. The officer, who shot McDonald 16 times, was charged last week with first-degree murder.
“This is my only warning. At 10AM Monday morning, I’m going to the campus quad of the University of Chicago. I will be armed with an M-4 carbine and two desert eagles, all fully loaded. I will execute approximately 16 white male students and or staff, which is the same number of time McDonald was killed,” wrote the commenter, who posted with the initials “JRD” and a Chicago Bulls logo, according to the police report. “I will then die killing any number of white policeman in the process. This is not a joke. I am to do my part and rid the world of white devils. I expect you do the same.”
An FBI agent contacted the U. of C. Police Department and, after daylong discussions, President Robert Zimmer alerted the campus community Sunday night that all classes and other activities planned for Monday would be canceled.
Zimmer asked staff and faculty members who did not have emergency duties or patient care responsibilities to stay away from campus, and students who live on campus were asked “to remain indoors as much as possible.”
The unknown caller to the FBI said the video clip from “Panther” showed a group of African-Americans carrying weapons and “racist police officers” hitting them, according to the police report. The FBI agent in New York could not find the posting on the website “but found it credible enough” to alert the Chicago FBI office and university police.
“Based on the FBI’s assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country, we have decided in consultation with federal and local law enforcement officials, to exercise caution by canceling all classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus through midnight on Monday,” Zimmer said in the email.
The U. of C. said Monday afternoon that classes remained canceled for the day and that plans for Tuesday would be announced later Monday.
On Monday morning, though, instead of students hustling across the quad with their backpacks, university and Chicago police patrolled the campus, some in SWAT gear and others parked at the corners of major intersections.
Normally, Lingwei Cheng would see her fellow students zipping across the quad on their bicycles and chatting with one another, but on Monday the 22-year-old graduate student was alone as she walked across the 5600 block of South Kimbark Avenue. Canceling class wouldn’t interrupt her schedule, Cheng said before news of the arrest broke, because she doesn’t normally have classes on Mondays. But she was locked out of the school’s library, kept out of the computer labs and unable to access the student center.
“It’s kind of crazy that just because someone posted online a threat that it would lock down the campus,” said Cheng, who is from China. “This is like finals season so maybe people appreciate having today off.”