New Castle News

April 30, 2014

Bomb threat closes local college campus

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Classes were disrupted by a bomb threat Tuesday at Butler County Community College’s Lawrence Crossing campus in Union Township.

Dr. Nicholas C. Neupauer, college president, said two threatening messages had been found written on a men’s restroom cubicle. One mentioned the bomb threat, the other threatened a shooting would occur next Tuesday.

With specific risks noted, Neupauer said, police presence on the campus will be raised “and we will continue this through exam week, which concludes at the end of next week.”

Susan Changnon, executive director of communications and marketing, said after the threats had been found, about 1:30 p.m., campus police and security director Pat Massaro contacted the Pennsylvania state police, New Castle, Union and Mahoning police, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI, notifying them of the bomb threat.

The building was evacuated and the parking lot was blocked as New Castle police and Mercer County Sheriff’s department came in with two bomb-sniffing dogs that patrolled the property inside and out.

Nothing was found, Changnon said.

However, all classes and student events were canceled Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night. She said about 150 students and eight to 10 professors and staff members were involved. Once notified, all packed up and left the building without incident, she said.

 In addition to canceling classes, some end-of-year events also were canceled, including a picnic scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and evening.

Classes were expected to resume Wednesday morning.

Changnon said one student has come forward so far, claiming to have overheard the bomb threat.

College officials said this was the first bomb threat at the Lawrence County campus in seven years.

“We didn’t find anything, but we take these threats seriously,” Changnon said. “This is in light of recent shootings and other attacks at other campuses.”

Changnon and Massaro said as a result of the threats, all Butler County Community College facilities will be on alert. Campus security will be beefed up using both campus staff and local police officers, who will increase their presence. The campus also has surveillance cameras. Students and staff will be kept abreast of events through a texting/email system.

This system, which had been used to notify the 3,600 faculty, students and staff of snow emergencies and canceled classes over the winter, was put into play again Tuesday, informing students the Lawrence Crossing campus would be closed until further notice.

Changnon noted the Union Township campus, with only one building and one main entrance, proved easy to secure Tuesday.

“And we had good response from local police,” Massaro said.

Anyone with information on the threats is asked to contact the Union Township Police Department at (724) 652-5203.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)