by Max Brantley
A threat of a possible "violent incident" prompted Pulaski Tech to close its campuses today, Arkansas Business reports.
SMALL UPDATE: A police source says NLR cops have gotten back in touch with the anonymous caller who made the original report. (UPDATE: This report turns out to be incorrect.) I hope this boils down to a night of heavy drinking and big tavern talk. But you can't be too careful.
UPDATE II: Sgt. Terry Kuykendall of NLR police says he's not been informed that they've re-established communications with the caller and says they are still urgently seeking another contact. He said police were told where the conversation was reportedly overheard (the caller said two white males were heard talking, with one saying there'd be violence at Pulaski Tech today worse than Virginia Tech), but that location is not being released. Officers checked Wednesday night but found no one there. He said based on the "emotion and sincerity" in the anonymous caller's voice, officers felt his report needed to be taken seriously. Officers immediately went to Pulaski Tech after the 11:30 p.m. call and patrolled through the night looking for open doors and other things out of place. After consulting with the school this morning, the school decided not to open for safety of students.
UPDATE III: Pulaski Tech will reopen Friday, putting more than 8,000 students back in class. No news of note beyond that. The anonymous caller never called back. The call is believed to have been made from a pay phone on or near Broadway in North Little Rock, but beyond that, the case hadn't advanced by Thursday afternoon. News release from Pulaski Tech on jump.
PULASKI TECH NEWS RELEASE
Pulaski Technical College will reopen Friday after closing Thursday in response to a report of a potentially violent threat. Dr. Dan F. Bakke, the college president, made the announcement Thursday afternoon after consulting with North Little Rock police.
“We are trying to get back to business as usual,” Dr. Bakke said. “We are very fortunate that the perceived threat did not lead to violence. We chose to err on the side of caution, and we don’t regret that decision. The safety of our students, staff and faculty has to be our number one priority, and I think our students appreciate that.”
The entrance gates to the main campus were locked at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, and students arriving for 8 a.m. classes were told that the campus was closed and that classes were cancelled.
The college’s other sites were subsequently closed, including the Kanis Road site in Little Rock, the Business and Industry Center in Little Rock, the Aviation Maintenance Technology Center at the North Little Rock Airport, the Saline County Career Center and the Saline County Adult Education Center.
North Little Rock police alerted college officials after receiving a call from an unidentified caller. The caller stated that he had witnessed a conversation between two men who indicated that there would be an incident Thursday at Pulaski Tech similar to the incident at Virginia Tech. North Little Rock police responded to campus Wednesday night.
“The college was never unsecured,” Dr. Bakke said. ‘We took precautions, and we’re still taking precautions.”
Heightened security will remain in effect at Pulaski Technical College. The college has a 10-member police department and will also use personnel from a private security company. Area law enforcement officials also will continue to have a presence on the campus. Campus events scheduled for Friday, including the college choir’s spring concert at 7 p.m., will go on as planned.