OSU Investigates ‘Potential Public Safety Threat’

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University Police Division issued a public safety notice Wednesday morning after receiving information regarding a potential “threat of violence.”OSU police issued the notice after being informed of postings to a fantasy, role playing game site at about 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.

According to the university, campus police received information from a chat room moderator about “a cafeteria” at the university just before midnight Wednesday morning. The postings referred to a, “potential public safety threat of violence” focused on a “cafeteria” on the university’s main campus on Wednesday.

School officials said they didn’t know which cafeteria was referenced, but that there are between 25 and 30 cafeterias on campus.

Police officers worked through the early morning hour of Wednesday to assess the information and the credibility of the threat, and engaged local, state and federal law enforcement, including the Columbus Division of Police, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio Homeland Security Fusion Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Officers increased police and security presence around campus and dining facilities. Police also notified staff at OSU’s regional campuses, which took necessary precautions.

University police said Wednesday afternoon that the window of concern has passed, but that police will maintain the increased presence and heightened awareness for as long as necessary.

Students were notified of the potential threat via a text alert at about 11 a.m.

A man identifying himself to NBC4 as a person who tipped OSU police about the threat says the threat occurred in a fantasy gaming chat room online Monday night. The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the person making the threat said the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in CT was an inspiration and that a shooting at OSU would make the alleged person who was threatening the shooting famous for weeks in the news.

According to the alleged tipster he immediately contacted the game site’s administrator who traced the IP address of the person who made the threats. The man says he then contacted OSU police as well as submitted a tip on the FBI’s web site.

OSU police did not return NBC4‘s phone call for a comment regarding those statements.

Todd Lindgren, Public Affairs Specialist for the FBI in Cincinnati, said that the FBI was aware of a potential threat at OSU but would only say that the FBI had offered assistance to OSU police.

Anyone seeing suspicious activity around campus is asked to call police at 911 in an emergency, or 614-292-2121 for a non-emergency.

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