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Article updated: 3/21/2013 5:56 AM

Authorities: No explosives found at Aurora University

By Marie Wilson

Aurora University officials canceled classes throughout the day and evening Wednesday after receiving more than one emailed bomb threat, but no explosive devices or suspicious items were found, authorities said.

The Kane County bomb squad left the scene about 5:10 p.m. after initial searches began about 8:40 a.m., authorities said.

"They were just being extra cautious," Steve McFarland, vice president for university communications, said about the bomb squad's decision to keep searching after Aurora police declared an all-clear about 1:30 p.m. "One of the (explosive-sniffing) dogs thought they caught something, but they confirmed pretty quickly it was not an explosive device."

Once authorities determined the dog had not sniffed out a bomb in the university's mailroom, the Kane County squad left and the campus prepared to hold evening events and activities, McFarland said. Classes will resume Thursday.

Authorities said officials began evacuating the campus around 8 a.m. after receiving more than one bomb threat by email.

"They were anonymous, generic, nonspecific," McFarland said about the threats, which did not mention specific buildings or people. "There was not much information to go on."

Aurora University President Rebecca Sherrick said in a statement the school sees the bomb threats as a serious criminal matter and intends to seek punishment and reimbursement for the costs and inconvenience the threats caused.

"To email or phone a threat of this kind is an act of domestic terrorism that all of us as Americans must work together to stop," Sherrick said in the statement. "Accordingly, I am announcing this afternoon a $25,000 reward for information leading to the identification and apprehension of the person(s) responsible for today's threats."

Anyone who has information about the threats is asked to call campus public safety at (630) 844-6140.

During the evacuation Wednesday morning, students who live on campus were relocated to nearby Freeman Elementary School or an off-campus location of their choosing until the campus received the initial all-clear from Aurora police.

Faculty and staff were dismissed for the day in an effort to be as safe and responsible as possible, McFarland said.

This is the second time in six months Aurora University has responded to a bomb threat, McFarland said. The other came by phone about 9 a.m. Oct. 11, according to a campus safety crime log. Classes in the Institute for Collaboration were canceled that day, but sessions in other areas of campus were unaffected.

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