‘Suspicious male,’ subject of Westfield State lockdown, identified

‘Suspicious male’ alert follows earlier reports of ‘hateful graffiti,’  assault

  • New Hall at Westfield State University GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 11/14/2017 9:19:29 AM

WESTFIELD — The student believed to be the cause of a lockdown scare on the Westfield State University campus Monday has come forward.

Campus police were contacted Monday night by a man who believed he was the person identified as the source of concern, according to a statement from the University Tuesday.

“He was directed to appear at the campus police station last night and fully cooperated,” the statement read. “He appeared in the same clothing he was wearing earlier in the day, comprised of a black trench coat, black pants, bulging backpack and a vest, which was neither a bullet-proof vest nor body armor.”

Two students who made the identification Monday reviewed a photo of the man and confirmed it was the same person.

The man poses no threat to the university community.

The university had announced Monday evening that additional Massachusetts State Police were on campus and that campus patrols have been increased.

“We secured the services of Massachusetts State Police and City of Westfield Police to supplement the work of Westfield State University Campus Police in patrolling the campus overnight,” University President Ramon S. Torrecilha wrote in a statement Tuesday morning. “At this time, we will remain vigilant. We understand from those patrolling our campus that there is no imminent threat.”

State Police were already on campus Monday to continue their investigation of “the hateful acts on campus,” Torrecilha wrote.

Earlier this month, the University took a report of anti-Semitic symbols and racial slurs on a number of walls and a whiteboard in dormitory Scanlon Hall, and a female minority student reported being verbally and physically assaulted on campus, according to information on the University’s website. Late last month, anti-Semitic symbols, obscene drawings, homophobic and racial slurs, and sexist profanity were found in dormitory Davis Hall. In September, racist and sexist messages were written on three consecutive evenings on black students’ dorm room door.

The campus was put into lockdown early Monday afternoon following a witness report of a suspicious male on campus.

Following a sweep of the campus by State Police and the university’s police, the lockdown was lifted at 2:33 p.m. and an all-clear message was issued. Classes resumed at 3:10 p.m. A hotline has been set up to field any calls for anyone with a concern or information. That number is 413-579-3050.

Torrecilha’s statement on Tuesday morning ended with, “Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ These are challenging times for all of us at Westfield State, but we will emerge stronger and better for what we have been through.”

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