Terra evacuated after threat

FREMONT Terra Community College was eerily empty Wednesday night. Buildings were evac
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Terra Community College was eerily empty Wednesday night.

Buildings were evacuated earlier in the night after reports surfaced a female student might take a gun to the campus and kill herself.

The evacuation comes more than one week after the Virginia Tech massacre.

Fortunately, the ending at Terra was peaceful.

By 8 p.m. Wednesday, the college had been searched, scanned and sniffed and only news station camera crews remained. The nursing student, Teresa Griffin, 43, Main Street, Tiffin, was found unarmed and unharmed one hour later at St. Charles Hospital in Oregon where she checked herself in for mental health issues.

The trouble began Wednesday afternoon when Griffin went on campus and was either expelled or quit school, according to Capt. Tim Wiersma of the Fremont Police Department.

At 6 p.m., Tiffin police received a call from someone claiming to be a family member of Griffin. The caller said Griffin was armed and was going to kill herself on campus.

Tiffin police relayed the information to Fremont police and to the Sandusky County Sheriff's office.

They, along with Terra security personnel, evacuated the campus full of students preparing for next week's final exams. Classes were canceled.

Meanwhile, Tiffin police went to Griffin's house on Main Street where a .357- Magnum and .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol were found to be missing.

"She wasn't out to hurt anybody else is how it was passed on to us," said Fremont police officer Scott Rosenberger. "I don't know that for sure, but that's how it came across."

Law enforcement officials cleared the campus, located at 2830 Napoleon Road, by 7:50 p.m.

Nancy Sattler, dean of Arts and Sciences, was on the scene when the evacuation took place.

"The (suicidal) student was not on campus," she said. "We have checked the campus from top to bottom; checked every room, every lab."

Sattler was pleased with how Terra students reacted to the evacuation.

"The students handled it very nicely," she said. "There was no panic, it was very orderly."

Sattler said Virginia Tech's tragedy had no bearing on the evacuation at Terra, which has about 2,500 students.

"We wouldn't have done anything differently if Virginia Tech hadn't happened," she said.

Sattler said the campus would be safe for students to return today.

In the meantime, law enforcement officers continue to piece together what happened. Tiffin police officer Brian Bryant said they don't yet know if Griffin ever went back to campus, intended to kill herself or possessed the guns. When she turned herself into the hospital, she did not have the guns, which had not been located as of 11 p.m. Wednesday night.

Oregon police went to the hospital to check on her condition after she spoke with Tiffin police over the phone.

Her parents were notified of her location and, as of 9:30 p.m., she was not charged by local police.

"I am not sure whether inducing panic will fit or not," Wiersma said.

The call came from a relative and not her, he said.

"That's why we will be talking to the prosecutor for an appropriate charge," Wiersma said.

Staff writer Laura Collins contributed to this story.