BY SEAN I. MILLS
A 23-year-old Utica College student is facing four felony counts of making a terroristic threat following the six-hour lockdown on campus on Monday, according to law enforcement officials.
Police said Fahrudin Omerovic used a cell phone application to try to hide his phone number when he made multiple threatening calls between Monday and Tuesday. Police officials said they believe that Omerovic never planned to carry out any of his threats.
“We do not believe that he was going to come through with any of these threats,” said Utica Police Lt. Bryan Coromato this morning. “But we’re not ruling anything out” this early in the investigation, he added.
Omerovic, of Utica, was arraigned at the county jail after being taken into custody on Tuesday on four counts of
making a terroristic threat, a class D felony. He was sent to lockup in lieu of $100,000 cash bail or $250,000 bond.
Authorities said Omerovic was scheduled to appear in Utica City Court this morning for a felony hearing.
Police said Omerovic is a senior majoring in health studies at Utica College, and that he took classes online.
“He made multiple threats,” Coromato explained. “He called our dispatch through a non-emergency line.” He did not dial 9-1-1.
Starting Monday morning, Coromato said Omerovic started making multiple threats of gun violence to the dispatch center using a cell phone application designed to mask a person’s telephone number. The app uses cellular data to make the call instead of a telephone line, and assigns the call a random telephone number, the lieutenant explained.
Utica College was placed on lockdown shortly after 11 a.m. Monday and remained so until late in the afternoon. People on campus were told to shelter indoors while law enforcement officials searched the school and escorted students and faculty to safety.
Coromato said police used that app to track Omerovic’s calls to their source. He said police were confident that the same caller was the one making the threats, which continued into Tuesday. Due to the increased police presence already on campus, and because police were already tracking Omerovic, Coromato said police and school officials decided not to initiate another lockdown on Tuesday.
“We did not think there was any immediate threat,” he explained. “The school did not need to go into lockdown” the second day.
Omerovic was identified Tuesday afternoon and was taken into custody at his residence. Police said no weapons were found in his home.
Utica College President Laura M. Casamento released a statement on the college’s Facebook page.
“Once again, I want to thank law enforcement for their dedication and hard work to ensure the safety of the Utica College community and to solve this case as quickly as they did,” she wrote.
“I also want to thank the Utica College community for all that you have done to cooperate with law enforcement and to support each other.”