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Shooting Reminds Students of Earlier Threat on Campus

The deadly shooting Thursday at Northern Illinois University has raised concerns about how campus officials responded last year to a threat that invoked the Virginia Tech shootings.

Nearly two months ago, the university shut down during finals week after an unknown person posted a racial threat on a dormitory bathroom wall.

Liz Peters, a parent of a junior at NIU, said the university didn’t do enough in response to that threat.

"I feel the university definitely could have done better," Peters said. "You cannot in these days not take these threats seriously."

University officials said they had no reason to believe that the shootings were linked to the previous threat.

Peters wasn’t so sure.

"How do they know that the threat that happened in December isn’t connected?" Peters said.

The university closed for one day while officials investigated the December threat.

Ryan O’Malley, a junior at NIU, said the threat upset students. It prompted the cancellation of one of O’Malley’s finals.

"Honestly, I was a little scared [to] go," O’Malley said.

He also said his test was scheduled to take place in the same building where Thursday’s shooting occurred.

University officials defended the campus’ security procedures following Thursday’s shootings.

It all happened very fast, University Police Chief Donald Grady said, and "it’s unlikely that anyone would have the ability to stop someone from beginning an incident like this."

University President John Peters said it appeared to be a random incident that was not connected to a previous threat.

"I don't know for sure that it is not connected," Peters said. "I just think this is a different kind of act; we don't think there was any warning. It seems spontaneous."

Melanie Margara, a university spokeswoman, said the investigation into the "anonymous graffiti action" remains open.

"It was a harmless graffiti incident," Margara said. "Upsetting as it was, it was not a threat that had any teeth behind it."