Authorities are not sure whether the suspect in the fatal shooting of a Wesleyan University student Wednesday remains in the Middletown area, but police said he may be targeting the campus and well as its Jewish community.
The suspect, identified as Stephen Morgan, expressed threats in his personal journal toward Wesleyan and its Jewish students, said Mike Whaley, vice president for student affairs, said in a statement.
Morgan was not a student at Wesleyan. He and the victim, Johanna Justin-Jinich, participated in a six-week summer program at New York University in 2007. Both were residents in student housing but did not stay in the same residence hall, according to NYU spokesman John Beckman.
Toward the end of the program, Justin-Jinich filed a harassment complaint with the Public Safety Department, saying she had been receiving harassing e-mails and phone calls from Morgan, he said.
"The Public Safety Department brought in the NYPD, and initial conversations were conducted with each person by the police. Ultimately, after attempts to follow-up with Ms. Justin-Jinich about pursuing the matter, she declined to pursue the case," he said.
Congregation Adath Israel, a synagogue down the street from where the shooting occurred, was closed this morning. The synagogue closed at the request of police, according to a staff member at the First United Methodist Church, which is next door.
Dara Parent, a secretary at the Methodist church, said the church received an e-mail from the synagogue last night notifying its neighbors that it will close due to the shooting at the request of the police.
Wesleyan's faculty was also warned to stay home.
"Faculty and staff should not come to their offices unless otherwise instructed. We will be sending information soon in regard to food and other administrative services," Wesleyan spokesman David Pesci wrote in a statement.
In a phone interview, Pesci said no classes were planned for today, even before the shooting. Today is known as a "reading day," he said. It falls between the end of classes last week and final exams, which begin next week.
"We're asking staff, unless we've contacted them, to stay at home for now," Pesci said. They can work from home, he said.
At about 1 p.m. Wednesday, Morgan walked into the Red & Black Café inside Broad Street Books near the campus and shot junior Johanna Justin-Jinich, who worked there, police said. She was rushed to Middlesex Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
A SWAT team that had been practicing nearby quickly responded and cordoned off the area, and the Wesleyan campus was locked down. The university's annual "Spring Fling" celebrations were canceled.
Later, students dropped plans for a candlelight vigil to remember Justin-Jinich because officials warned against any such gathering.
The church remained open with an adult education class and a preschool operating as usual.
Counseling continues to be available to students, faculty and staff, Wesleyan University President Michael S. Roth said in a statement issued shortly before 8 a.m. It also says:
"A beloved member of our community has been brutally murdered. Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the family and friends of Johanna Justin-Jinich. This is a tragic time for them, and for all of us in the Wesleyan community. We are all deeply saddened and shocked by this event."