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RCC threat targeted 'individual members of the college'

The RCC/SOU Higher Education Center in Medford was evacuated today following an anonymous threat that referenced the 2015 Umpqua Community College shootings.

The college began evacuation procedures at about 12:30 p.m., shortly after staff found a written note in the "G" building mailbox containing what officials believed were credible threats targeting "individual members of the college," according to Kirk Gibson, Rogue Community College's vice president of instruction.

The White City and Redwood campuses were not evacuated, RCC spokesman Grant Walker said. Classes in Medford will resume as scheduled Friday. The school is in the midst of finals week.

Gibson said the note referred to the shootings in Roseburg that left 10 people dead, including the shooter, on Oct. 1, 2015. He described the note as "the kind of threat we felt was credible enough to take action."

He said officials hadn't established yet who wrote the note and exactly whom the note targeted. 

"It was a reference to UCC that we found particularly troubling," Gibson said. The note prompted staff to respond with "our highest levels of precaution."

RCC officials closed the campus for the rest of the day. The Medford library, which on Thursdays is open to RCC students and staff only, also was closed.

By 1:30 p.m., police and RCC staff were focused on ensuring students were evacuated and clear of the building, that a perimeter was secured, and to clarify the veracity of the threat against the college. Students who were lingering around the RCC campus outside the building were ordered to move along.

The college notified students of the evacuation through automated texts, emails, phone calls and broadcasts through the school's PA system in each of the buildings.

Among the RCC students on his way home after the evacuation was Nicholas Mantheakis, who said he missed only a lab.  Because the threat occurred so close to the end of the term, Mantheakis said his instructor told the class everyone would get an A on the last assignment.

Students were rushed out of the building and forced to leave items such as personal effects and laptops behind, Mantheakis said.

"We just had to get out," he said.

Aside from the inconvenience, Mantheakis said he wasn't troubled by the threat, which he believes will turn out to be not credible. He recalled a previous threat occurred during finals week.

Gibson said that the university would work to accommodate students whose final exams or projects were affected by the evacuation, later adding that officials made the move out of concern for student safety.

"We simply don't know, and in those cases we'd much rather err on the side of being very cautious," Gibson said.

The university takes student and faculty safety very seriously, Gibson said, describing protocols that he said are regularly practiced and reviewed. He said it appeared they "worked very well."

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Security patrols the outside of Rogue Community College's Medford campus after it was evacuated Thursday because of a threat. [Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta]