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University of Chicago Closes After FBI Warns of Threats of Gun Violence

By Sam Cholke | November 29, 2015 8:14pm | Updated on November 30, 2015 10:46am
 The University of Chicago will close its Hyde Park campus on Monday after warnings from FBI officials of threats of violence on campus.
The University of Chicago will close its Hyde Park campus on Monday after warnings from FBI officials of threats of violence on campus.
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Shutterstock/Henryk Sadura

HYDE PARK — The University of Chicago shut down its Hyde Park campus on Monday after a warning from FBI counterterrorism officials of a threat of gun violence.

As of 10 a.m., the time the threatened incident was to have occurred, passed without incident.

In an email to students and staff on Sunday night, university President Robert Zimmer said university officials were told by the FBI that someone made a threat of gun violence to take place on the campus quad.

The quad was mostly empty Monday morning save for campus and Chicago police and media. Chicago Police Department squad cars could be seen scattered around the campus.

In his note, Zimmer said that the University was informed by FBI counterterrorism officials Sunday that "an unknown individual posted an online threat of gun violence against the University of Chicago, specifically mentioning 'the campus quad' on Monday morning at 10 a.m."

"Based on the FBI’s assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country, we have decided in consultation with federal and local law enforcement officials, to exercise caution by canceling all classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus through midnight on Monday," he wrote.

Joan Hyde, a spokeswoman for the FBI, said late Sunday that the investigation into the source of the online threat is ongoing.

"Upon learning of a possible threat, we shared information with law enforcement and university officials, as is our practice," said Hyde. "The decision to cancel classes was made by the university."

Zimmer said in the letter that security will be increased on campus and all activities will be canceled at the university, U. of C. Laboratory Schools, libraries and other institutions on campus.

All nonessential staff are being told to stay home, and students are being asked to stay in their dorms and wait for instructions from staff.

The University of Chicago Medical Center will remain open to patients and will have added security.

"All University staff and faculty members who do not have emergency duties or patient care responsibilities are encouraged to avoid coming to the Hyde Park campus on Monday," the statement said.

Jeremy Manier, a spokesman for the university, said there were no street closures planned, but there will be more security on campus.

Chicago Police declined to comment.

Classes at all University of Chicago charter schools have been cancelled for Monday.

St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School has also cancelled all classes for Monday.

The Chicago Theological Seminary and the Lutheran School of Theology have closed their Hyde Park campuses for Monday.

The university's Downtown Gleacher Center has also cancelled all events for Monday.

"Exercising an abundance of caution, we have decided to cancel all Chicago Booth activities and classes tomorrow at Gleacher Center and 455 N. Cityfront Plaza, in addition to Harper Center," Sunil Kumar, dean of the Booth School of Business, said in a letter sent to the university community. "To ensure your safety, you are urged to avoid coming to any of these buildings."

Several local businesses have said they will also close on Monday after the warning went out from the university on Sunday evening. The Seminary Cooperative Bookstore and 57th Street Books will both be closed on Monday. Parker's pet store will only be providing deliveries and has canceled all grooming appointments and will close the store.

K.A.M. Isaiah Israel will also be closed.

Murray, Bret Harte and Ray elementary schools will have indoor recess on Monday and will have heightened security, according to school officials.

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