St. Xavier University to reopen Wednesday

April 15, 2008 3:51:07 PM PDT
Classes are set to resume Wednesday at Chicago's Xavier University five days after a written threat closed the school's campuses. Investigators are talking to a person of interest in connection with the threat. The university will reopen with graduate classes Wednesday evening.

Xavier's campuses were closed after threatening messages noting the date April 14 were found in a bathroom.

Because not all of the university's 5,700 students are from the Chicagoland area, the university says they will not penalize students who cannot come back before Monday. But they did believe it was important to start this week since it is almost the end of the semester.

Graduate students come back Wednesday, undergrads on Thursday. In the meantime, investigators both from the campus and the police, say they no longer believe there is a credible threat. Although no arrests have been made, they have their sights on a person of interest.

Xavier university officials now believe the immediate threat is past. Starting Wednesday afternoon, staff and students will be welcomed back on campus with more classes resuming Thursday.

University president Judith Dryer made the announcement.

"We are pleased to get back to the life of learning, teaching, scholarship, interaction and growth, socially and spiritually," said Dryer.

St. Xavier sent students home after graffiti was found written on a bathroom wall. The first threat was not specific. But the second stated a date, which was for Monday, April 14.

Tuesday, the Chicago Police Department revealed there were more than just those two incidents.

"There have been several other incidents, which may be copycat-type stuff, mainly graffiti-type incidents, and they were mostly isolated to the university and the immediate public access area to it," said Comm. Michael Kuemmeth, Chicago Police Department.

And while the investigation is ongoing, Kuemmeth said he believes it will be resolved soon and that handwriting analysis performed by the FBI has helped them narrow down their focus.

The news that the university is reopening came as a welcome surprise to students who work at a nearby restaurant.

"We are definitely anxious to get back and get back to normal," said Kevin Wiersemn, St. Xavier student.

"I hope it was a guy playing a prank. But, like Kevin said, you have to take it very serious after what happened at Virginia Tech. It is not a small matter any more," said Dan Bolger, St. Xavier student.

Police are still conducting their investigation. They are still talking to several people. But there is a person of interest. The commander said that the handwriting and also the fact that these incidents were limited to the dormitory were what happened to point them in the direction of the person or persons they believe may be responsible for this.


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