Source of Lafayette College threat remains unknown

EASTON, Pa. (WPVI) -- It was a tranquil Sunday morning on campus at Lafayette College, much different than the scene on Saturday night.

SWAT teams and bomb squads searched the campus for explosives after administrators received an online threat from someone claiming to be a student who pledged allegiance to ISIS.

"It was potentially serious. I think everyone on campus was just preparing for the worst-case scenario," senior Chris Gallo said.

Students and faculty were asked to stay inside buildings, as campus police, the FBI and the Easton Police Department searched through every building for explosive materials described in the threat as a homemade pipe, pressure cooker and nail bombs.

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Police investigate threat made to Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. Walter Perez reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on May 5, 2018.

"We all stayed together, lights off, doors locked, stuff like that because it alarming to get an alert like that," junior Francesca Blood said.

About six hours later, the threat was deemed unfounded; there were no hazardous materials found on campus.
Everyone was cleared to move freely through the campus.

Officials still don't know who was behind the online threat.

Lafayette College President Alison Byerly published the following statement Sunday:

I want to thank everyone for the care you showed for one another last evening and outline next steps for the community as we strive to recover from this difficult incident. As noted in our message late last night, law enforcement officials did not find any indication that the threat made to the campus was credible. They advise a return to normal operations, including the return to campus of those who remained off campus last night. While Public Safety remains vigilant, the investigation, led by the FBI with the assistance of the Easton Police Department and Public Safety, is now focused on identifying the source of the threat.

While we are relieved at this outcome, we recognize that the disruption and emotional impact of this event was very real. With the semester drawing to a close, this is already a stressful time for students. The academic administration is in contact with faculty regarding the potential impact on student work and will send a message to the community later this afternoon. All dining, library, and other facilities are open, and all campus events scheduled for today are proceeding. Students who would like assistance from the Counseling Center can dial (610) 330-5005 immediately and be connected to someone trained in crisis response. Normal center hours, including drop-in hours, will resume on Monday at 9:00 am. Anyone who believes that they have information that might be relevant to this ongoing investigation should contact Public Safety at or (610) 330-5330. Calls with questions or concerns not directly related to the investigation can be made to that number and will be forwarded to other offices who will be staffing phones this afternoon and evening.

We recognize that in a situation like this, uncertainty leads to heightened anxiety. Throughout last evening, we followed the advice of law enforcement about what information and actions would be most conducive to student safety as they assessed the threat. It is possible that in the days ahead, as we work to conclude this investigation, you may continue to feel frustrated at the gap between what the College is able to communicate and the rumors, theories, or claims that may circulate on social media. I hope that you will understand that even when our communications cannot provide all of the answers or reassurance you might hope for, they will always reflect our highest priorities, which are ensuring student safety, concluding the investigation promptly, and promoting a return to normal operations for the campus.

I would like again to echo the thanks to the community offered by VP Diorio and Dean Hunt last night. Many staff were on campus throughout the night, visiting residence halls, talking with students, offering rides or escorts, or relaying questions and concerns. In addition, many RAs, student leaders, and peers played important roles in supporting each other. I heard from many alumni and parents who expressed concern and asked how they could help. I am very grateful to all of you for your assistance and support.

Final exams that were scheduled for Monday May 7 will be shifted to Sunday, May 13.

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Threat investigation at Lafayette College. Maggie Kent reports during Action News at Noon on May 6, 2018.

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