Person-of-interest located after making threats to Augustana campus


Molly Sweeney

A suspect who made threats to campus Thursday has been apprehended by Rock Island Police.

Augustana police chief Tom Phillis told the Observer he is “confident” that students, staff and faculty could feel secure about returning to campus activities. He added that Public Safety does not plan to increase its presence around campus.

“I’m not sure what I can say and what I can’t say since this is a police investigation. I think the best thing for me to do is just reiterate the email that was put out last night,” Phillis said. “The subject was located, but there is no threat to campus, and the Rock Island police are handling the matter.”

Around 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8, the Augustana community received an email from the College warning of the alleged suspect’s threats, but students had been aware of the situation ahead of official Augie communication. Fear spread quickly through campus, with many students reaching out to faculty and staff — who also were just beginning to digest the situation — in a search for answers.

According to the college, politically, sexually and religiously violent notes were left in different campus buildings. Around 7 p.m., Augustana students, faculty and staff received an email update informing them that the suspect making threats to campus had been apprehended and the Rock Island Police were handling the matter. The campus was also told that they were not under immediate threat and that classes would resume as normal on Friday.

“I am confident that classes should take place today and that it should be business as usual today,” Phillis said.  

Thursday night, the Student Government Association met for their weekly meeting online, due to the fear of potential violence on campus.  

SGA President Isabelle Jordan said during the meeting, SGA discussed the need for better communication systems with students and administration, as well as a need for protocols to prevent issues like this in the future. 

“Students need to feel comfortable and protected on campus regardless of their religion, identity, their creed, their sexual orientation, their race or their ethnicity,” Jordan said. “Students need to feel safe on campus and when they don’t, something needs to be done on every single level, not just administrative or for faculty but also student wise as well.”

Yesterday challenged Augustana’s naivety regarding issues of campus safety, according to Jordan, and she said everyone must decide on their personal levels of comfort today.   

“I trust Public Safety and [Rock Island Police Department] and admin when they say that that threat has been taken care of. I do trust them. But I don’t think it’s my place to say students should just be fine and go to class or go to campus or continue as normal, because what happened today wasn’t,” Jordan said. 

Jordan also said it is important to take small steps to feel safer on campus. This can include SGA educational programs, as well as “calling people out” against microaggressions. 

“When we normalize joking, that normalized ignorance and bias makes it an unsafe atmosphere,” Jordan said. “But you need to be holding your friends accountable. You need to be holding your professors accountable. So the first step is not normalizing behavior like this. And that’s something all of us can do when it comes to admin.”

On Dec. 9 at around 10:00 a.m. Public Safety sent an email regarding two incidents of a “swastika drawn in the frost on the back of their vehicle,” according to the Timely Warning. 

Phillis said he does not believe the two incidents are related, and Public Safety is currently investigating the incident. 

The Observer will continue to update as more information becomes available.