A message has been released to the University of Oregon community from the family of the man who was rumored to be planning a shooting on campus Monday. Pictures and comments circulated on social media over the weekend fueled the rumors, but UOPD contacted the man and determined that he did not pose a threat and sent out a campus-wide message Sunday.
University of Oregon police again confirmed that there is no current threat of a shooting on UO’s campus today.
This is the message from the family in full:
“We are the family members of the person who, during a mental health crisis, made posts on a Facebook page that some people found worrying or threatening.
“These posts never threatened violence to the UO or any person, but showed the strained state our family member was in. Other people somehow pulled from this that our family member was threatening violence to the campus and then shared that with each other on social media, and that went viral.
“We want the community to know that our family member is not a threat, and is in the hospital under secure care this week and our family member will leave the state and come home with us after leaving the hospital. Our family member has no guns, no history of violence. Our family member is a person having a mental health crisis and receiving needed care. Our family member only has wanted to do good in the world, but in this state, the words used on Facebook to express fragmented thoughts were unusual.
“We are sorry that this has resulted in worry or fear for people at the school our family member loves. We hope that you will understand that our family member is not a threat and to please respect our family's need to take care of one another at this time.”
Earlier on Monday, UOPD spokesman Kelly McIver told the Emerald that he could not confirm social media rumors that the man is in the care of mental health professionals without a serious violation of his privacy rights.
UO’s previous campus alert on Sunday was meant to dispel rumors of a threat and quell any fear of the campus community, McIver said.
“Information shared by others on social media since Saturday, May 11 is not accurate. The original posts of concern did not threaten the campus, or threaten shooting,” read the email.
“I think the problem that we're having now is that people -- some people -- seem to be more trusting of the information that they have received that is erroneous on social media than they are from the direct message coming from the university yesterday afternoon,” McIver said.
He said he had no knowledge of any cancelled classes, and that campus members should continue with business as usual.
But concerns and rumors continued to brew, and some professors have offered students the option to stay away from campus classes without a penalty. Delta Zeta, a sorority on campus, cancelled their spring philanthropy, Carnival For a Cause, due to safety concerns, according to a Facebook post yesterday afternoon.
“Due to safety concerns, Carnival for a cause will be cancelled this afternoon. Everyone on campus, please stay safe and indoors! More updates to come,” the Facebook post said.
“There's been nothing from the university or the police that have in any way encouraged people to cancel things or do anything other than just have their normal operations,” McIver said.
McIver said that UOPD has not increased its presence on campus, but has made an effort to be more visible in the “heart” of campus today.
“We're circulating around to be seen primarily because there are people who have concerns — not because there is a threat, but because people have concerns of a threat,” McIver said.
The Emerald will continue to report on this story as more information becomes available.