The vague threats made against the College during Winter break and the posting of fliers reporting the banning of a man from campus last week have led to a general increase in vigilance at the College.
Sources within the College administration have confirmed that the “unsubstantiated threat” made against the College on Jan. 4 was not isolated to the campus itself. According to Matt Golden, director of Communications and Media Relations, the College was only one of numerous properties and public figures allegedly threatened.
“We were one of many public entities and individuals named in this threat,” Golden said.
Campus Police are still investigating the alleged incident, along with multiple other law enforcement agencies, including the Bucks County Prosecutor’s Office, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, the State Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The off-campus agencies were unable to shed any light on the situation.
“I don’t know anything beyond what you’ve already printed,” Angelo Onoffri, assistant prosecutor for the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, said Friday.
John Collins, the newly-hired director of Campus Police, refuted the notion that the alleged threat was in some way tied to the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. Previously, local law enforcement sources suggested that a resident at the state mental hospital could have been responsible for the incident.
“We didn’t publicize further because we didn’t want to alarm anyone,” Lt. James Lopez of Campus Police said.
The publication of specific information regarding the alleged threat has been slowed by the fact that neither campus, state, local or federal agencies have been able to completely verify the legitimacy of the threat, leaving the College open to legal consequences if it released incorrect details.
“If we were to say someone threatened the College without proper documentation to back it up, we could be pursued for libel or slander by this individual,” Golden said. “It would put the College in a precarious position.”
The wide range of the alleged threat has also become an issue. According to Golden, Campus Police does not have jurisdiction over the alleged incident because the threat allegedly was levied against more institutions and persons than just the College.
When asked if there was a connection between the fliers and the alleged threat, Golden declined to comment.
Collins could not comment on a possible link between the fliers and the alleged threat because his office is still investigating it. However, he did clarify that the person pictured in the fliers is not currently a student or employee of the College.
The College’s ability to release information concerning the fliers have been severely limited by the lack of pending criminal charges against the man it depicts.
“This situation differs from Michael Larkin because he was convicted of a crime,” Golden said, referencing last semester’s shooting hoax in which Trenton resident Michael Larkin was charged with false public alarm.
During the aftermath of the November hoax, Campus Police and the administration distributed fliers displaying Larkin’s mug shot around campus and notified students via mass e-mail. However, the State Attorney General’s office has restricted the College from using mass e-mail regarding the alleged threat on the fliers.
“Our legal counsel told us to distribute the flier to campus security personnel and anyone involved in access to dormitories and buildings, but we were not allowed to use mass e-mail,” Golden said.
Lopez added that the fliers were posted most prominently in the Brower Student Center because it is a “high traffic area” for students.
When asked if he was concerned that students might take the fliers lightly because of the lack of substantial information regarding the incident that prompted their posting, Golden said the College is extremely limited in what it can divulge.
“The limitation of what we can or cannot include in an announcement like this is certainly a concern,” he said. “We have received everything second and third hand.”
Despite his frustrations, Golden said his office has been as open as possible with the campus community throughout the incident.
“It is our protocol to release as much information as possible,” Golden said. “We want people to be alert.”