An Oregon nursing student admitted that exams were the motive behind two recent bomb threats she called in to her community college.
Danielle M. Sylvia, 27, of Salem, Ore., told detectives she previously failed out of the nursing program at Chemeketa Community College, but was reinstated as a probationary student in January. Sylvia said she made the two calls, one on Feb. 13 and one on Feb. 27, to avoid tests due on the dates.
Detectives with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department used phone records to trace the calls back to Sylvia. Sylvia said she placed one call from her personal cell phone and the other from her landlord’s cell phone.
A call from a female was received by a Portland television station on Feb. 13. Thomson said the call wasn’t specific to any part of the college, so all seven Chemeketa campuses in the area were delayed in opening while officers secured them. Greg Harris, a college spokesman, said more than 5,000 students and faculty were alerted via the school’s emergency response text message system, as well as through Facebook and the college’s website, to stay away from their campus.
“Because there was no specific location given during the threat, it took police about five hours to secure all of the campuses, but it was found to be fake,” Thomson said.
On Feb. 27, a female caller reported reading a threat on an online message board, according to police. The caller claimed the message warned of a planned shooting in building 9 on Chemeketa’s Salem campus. Law enforcement evacuated the building, and the college cancelled classes for that location. Police secured the campus for six hours, but found no trace of a shooter.
“After the first threat, students were fearful and concerned for their safety,” Harris said, “but after the second, the feedback quickly changed to annoyance about the disruption of their education.”
Even though both threats were unfounded, police said they still take these kinds of calls seriously.
“We can’t afford to look at these and assume they are a hoax,” Thomson said. “We have to go through the process of handling each one as though it were a legitimate call.”
Sylvia was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct and five counts of menacing. She is currently in the Marion County Jail with a bond of $35,000 and could not be reached for comment. She could face up to a year in prison for each count and multiple fines.
A third threat was called into the college’s counseling office on March 1, but Sylvia denied any involvement with that specific call. Police have determined that it is unrelated to the first two threats and are still investigating, but Harris said, after Sylvia’s arrest, he feels safer at the college.
“It definitely is a feeling of relief that we can get back to a normal level,” Harris said. “Our relationship with the police has been great and we’re so glad they could bring us some sense of closure with these two incidents.”