© 2023 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Some Bradley University students say better communication is needed during incidents like Tuesday's bomb scare

This anonymous message was scrawled in chalk in the Bradley University Circle of Pride on Friday. Many university students tell WCBU they are disappointed with how Bradley handled communications during a Tuesday bomb scare.
Tim Shelley
This anonymous message was scrawled in chalk in the Bradley University Circle of Pride on Friday. Many university students tell WCBU they are disappointed with how Bradley handled communications during a Tuesday bomb scare.

Bradley University issued a lockdown notice Tuesday night via its text message warning system after officials received word of a bomb threat to the Business and Engineering Convergence Center (BECC).

The message, sent at 7:41 p.m., stated “BU foreWarn - Lock down immediately. Wait for further instructions.” The message was sent two more times in the hour after the initial message was received.

Students told WCBU these messages were the only communication they received from the university during the lockdown that lasted almost three hours.

From 7:41 p.m. to 9:19 p.m., students remained sheltered in place until they received another message stating that it was safe to move about indoors. Students were not notified until 10:12 p.m. that the lockdown was lifted — almost 15 minutes after notices had been posted to social media.

Students sheltered in their dorms, classrooms, or other places on campus the entire time before they were allowed to resume normal activities. Some were in the BECC and in the Renaissance Coliseum, a building adjacent to the BECC, at the time of the lockdown.

University students, visiting high school students, and their families were watching a recruitment band concert at the Renaissance Coliseum when the lockdown alert was issued.

Freshman creative writing major Nicholas Christiansen was one of the Bradley students at the concert.

He said the alerts began to play over the intercoms during the last song of the concert, and that they received no other information other than the texted messages and the intercom warnings of an intruder on campus.

“We stayed in the seats, and they decided it was a good idea to continue playing. So the last song they played for, like the five-minute duration that it was, but the entire group, we were texting each other,” Christiansen said, “We were texting our parents, friends, saying, 'Hey, we have an intruder on campus. And we're kind of on lockdown. Just letting you know.' But we didn't know anything. We didn't know what it was until somebody mentioned there was a rumor of a bomb threat.”

Christiansen said the ordeal was traumatizing, and that he would have appreciated more information, especially as there were families with young children in attendance as well.

Freshman civil engineering major Evan Kaspari also was in attendance. He said while he understood the urgency of the situation, the student body deserved some kind of update about the situation during the lockdown.

“One of my concerns was that they weren't addressing how or what happened specifically. So if there was a threat issued, whether or not the perpetrator was in custody is kind of important if the threat is still ongoing,” Kaspari said, “So that was one of the things I was worried about that never really got cleared.”

Prior to the announcement of the safety of campus, Bradley University Police began to direct attendees of the concert out of the west side of the building and away from campus.

But Kaspari said while visitors were able to return to their vehicles, students ended up remaining in the building, or outside because the rest of campus was still locked down at the time.

Kaspari said the evacuation of the Renaissance Coliseum was unorganized and it was unclear what to do.

Bradley University Police Chief Brian Joschko said students released from the BECC and the Renaissance Coliseum were free to return to their residences, and that an assessment will be done to identify what went well and what can be improved upon about the response.

We depend on your support to keep telling stories like this one. You – together with donors across the NPR Network – create a more informed public. Fact by fact, story by story. Please take a moment to donate now and fund the local news our community needs. Your support truly makes a difference.

Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.