September 28, 2011

Suspicious call prompts campus-wide alert

A suspicious call originating in Galesburg and received at the Public Safety Building at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday could have been interpreted as a threat, according to Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf.

The call, which lasted about ten seconds, “contained a short nonspecific comment” from a caller who sounded like an older male with an accent, according to the campus alert sent out by Schlaf a half hour after the incident.

“The comment was about seven words long, including the words ‘Galesburg,’ ‘Knox College’ and ‘evacuate,’ but nothing was associated with the word ‘evacuate’ other than the location,” Schlaf said.

According to Schlaf, the call recipient asked the caller what he meant by the comment, and then the caller ended the call.

Schlaf said the call was traced back to a cell tower in the north central part of the city, but it has been difficult to pinpoint the exact origin.

“The police communicated with T-Mobile, the major carrier involved, and there was some indication that the SIM card was used with another device, which may have caused some difficulty finding the origination,” Schlaf said.

Schlaf said the call was very vague and Campus Safety was not given very much information by the Galesburg Police Department, and there was no direct threat contained in the call.

“There was no specific threat, but the way it was said and some of the words used implied a threat,” Schlaf said. “We were coming down on the side of caution that there was a threat [in sending the alert].”

Schlaf said there was a heightened police presence around the campus perimeter

Schlaf said the investigative efforts even reached to the state and national level, but his campus-wide email alert indicated that those checks were negative.

“Even though this was an event with a small amount of information,” Schlaf said, “there was a broad and large investigation involved from the time when the call came in.”

No information about what was said during the call was made readily available at the Public Safety Building, and no formal report was available for review.

Charlie Megenity
Charlie Megenity (formerly Gorney) is a senior double majoring in political science and economics. He previously served TKS as managing editor and as co-news editor while working as the weekend reporter for The Galesburg Register-Mail. Over the summer of 2012, Charlie interned in Wisconsin with Patch.com, an online hyperlocal news source, where he covered the August 2012 Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting; he will return to Patch during the summer of 2013. He is also the journalism editor for Catch magazine.. Charlie has received three awards from the Illinois College Press Association for newswriting and design, including a first place award for front page layout. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Hazen Kimble Memorial Award in Journalism for a feature story published in The Knox Student. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post.


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