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Jeffrey Riley Hankins

BOWIE — A brief scare at North Central Texas College was enough to prompt safety precaution meetings at all three college campuses — especially following a mass murder at Virginia Tech University on Monday.

NCTC administrators at the Cooke County Campus — NCTC’s central campus in Gainesville — were concerned and alerted police when an anonymous caller complained about not receiving a financial aid check and made references to a gunman who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va.

Administrators ascertained the caller’s wife was a student at the NCTC Bowie campus. The caller was located and taken into custody at 11:39 a.m. Tuesday at the Bowie Campus. He was then taken to the Montague County Jail in Montague where he remains in custody at press time.

Guy Green, investigator with the Bowie Police Department, said Jeffrey Riley Hankins, 40, of Nocona was arrested. Police found a Ruger 9 mm handgun in his vehicle.

The weapon was not fired, nor did police expect he would use it, Green said.

“He never even displayed it,” Green said. “It was found in the vehicle.”

Capt. Jim Bleything of the Gainesville Police Department said an arrest warrant was issued Wednesday in Gainesville for Hankins on charges of making “terroristic threats” over the phone. Bleything said Gainesville police were ready in case Hankins showed up at the Gainesville campus.

“I think with all threats you should take them seriously, but as authorities we have to analyze them carefully,” he said.

Dr. Condoa Parrent, vice president of student services, said extra precaution is being taken and a campus safety meeting is scheduled for this afternoon.

“At this time, and at least for the remainder of the week, we have armed, off-duty police officers on all three campuses,” Parrent said.

The Bowie and Gainesville police indicated they would add an extra patrol to the respective campuses.

Parrent explained the situation in a written statement.

According to Parrent, late on Monday afternoon a call was received in the NCTC Business Office in Gainesville (which handles business for all three campuses) from an anonymous male caller. The caller expressed anger that his wife, an NCTC student later determined to be enrolled at the Bowie Campus, did not receive a financial aid award check as they had expected.

“Still refusing to identify himself, he made some vague threats, with references to the shootings at Virginia Tech,” Parrent said.

Selected staff were alerted, and efforts began immediately to try to determine the caller’s identity, she said.

On Tuesday morning he called back, this time speaking to a college employee in the Financial Aid Office at the Cooke County Campus. The caller refused to identify himself when asked.

“He was clearly still very angry and made additional, more specific threats of physical violence towards a staff member and again made reference to the Virginia Tech shootings,” the Parrent said.

Parrent continued investigating and, using information and references made by the anonymous caller, staff were able to determine his identity.

“It is important to note that it is still unclear whether the caller knew he was speaking to someone at the Gainesville campus or whether he may have thought he was speaking to someone at the Bowie Campus,” Parrent said. “Because the caller’s wife is enrolled as a student at the Bowie Campus, Bowie Campus personnel, the Bowie Police Department and the Gainesville Police Department were all made aware of the potential for a dangerous situation and that it had been the caller’s normal practice to drive his wife to campus each day at a certain time.”

The incident, though it did not prove violent, led administrators to take preventative measures by addressing policy.

“On all three campuses, we are having student safety forums,” Parrent said, adding that the Cooke County Campus meeting is at 2 p.m. Students, staff and faculty would be welcome to give their input on how to prevent a would-be shooting, she said.

NCTC staff met Wednesday morning and discussed putting a task force together to “look at best practices and establish a written policy for something of this nature.”

Parrent said all three campuses do not allow weapons on the premises, even if the holder is a licensed by the state of Texas for concealed carry of handguns.

NCTC also does not allow electric-shock tasers, though mace and pepper spray devices are permitted.

Parrent said there are emergency communication concerns at the Gainesville campus, such as no intercom system between the buildings.

NCTC may be reached at 668-7731.

* * *

The Virginia Tech shooting has prompted action at several other schools, colleges and universities, according to Associated Press reports.

Campus threats forced lock-downs and evacuations at universities and grade schools in seven states on Tuesday, a day after a Virginia Tech student’s shooting rampage killed 33 people.

One threat in Louisiana directly mentioned the massacre in Virginia, while others were reports of suspicious activity in Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Dakota, South Dakota and Michigan, the AP reported.

In Louisiana, parents picked up hundreds of students from Bogalusa’s high school and middle school amid reports that a man had been arrested Tuesday morning for threatening a mass killing in a note that alluded to the murders at Virginia Tech.

Both schools, located in southeastern Louisiana, were in lockdown procedures. The principal reported the terroristic note made references to the Virginia Tech shooting.

In Rapid City, S.D., schools were locked down after receiving reports of a man with a gun in a parking lot at Central High. No shots were fired and no injuries were reported, police said. The high school students were taken to the nearby Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, where parents were allowed to pick up their children.

In Austin, authorities evacuated buildings at St. Edward’s University after a threatening note was found, a school official said.

Police secured the campus perimeter and were searching the buildings, St. Edward’s University spokeswoman Mischelle Amador said. She declined to say where the note was found and said its contents were “nonspecific.”

Amador said the university’s reaction was not influenced by Monday’s attack at Virginia Tech.

Seven North Dakota State University buildings were evacuated after a duffel bag was found outside a bus shelter in the main part of the campus. NDSU spokesman Dave Wahlberg said the shootings in Virginia reinforced the need to “err on the side of safety.”

In Bloomfield Hills, Mich., police attributed a 30-minute lock-down at the exclusive Cranbrook Schools complex in response to jittery nerves following the Virginia slayings.

School officials called police after parents and students reported spotting a 6-foot-tall man in a skirt, high heels, lipstick and a blond wig near a school drop-off area outside Cranbrook’s Kingswood Upper School, Lt. Paul Myszenski said. Police were unable to find anyone meeting the man’s description.

At the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, officials ordered three campus administration buildings evacuated for almost two hours Tuesday morning in response to a telephone bomb threat. The city’s bomb squad searched the buildings but found nothing, campus spokesman Chuck Cantrell said.

Cantrell said there was no reason to believe the bogus threat was related to the shootings at Virginia Tech, but “we just chose to err on the side of caution today.”

The other, at the University of Oklahoma, had started with a report of a man spotted on campus carrying a suspicious object, officials said.

The man was carrying an umbrella, not a weapon, and he later identified himself to authorities, University of Oklahoma President David Boren said in a statement. Boren initially had said the person was believed to carrying a yoga mat.

The Associated Press contributed to the latter part of this report. Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at andyhoguegdr@ntin.net

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