YSU Beefs Up Security in Wake of ISIS Messages

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Youngstown State University is beefing up campus security in the wake of vandalism that contained threatening messages purportedly from supporters of ISIS.

The landmark rock outside the student union building was defaced overnight with messages that touted support of  ISIS and painted with the colors of the French flag. Among the messages were Arabic script, then “We are coming,” “YSU supports ISIS” and “Jihad over God ISIS.”

Campus police completed painting over the rock with white paint about 10 a.m.

Shannon Tirone, associate vice president for university relations, said the vandalism was discovered around 7:15 this morning.

“Police are working on it along with local authorities and the FBI has been notified because of its threatening tone,” Tirone said.

Authorities are reviewing films taken by campus security cameras, she added.

“We’ve beefed up security because this incident has such an emotional tie to what’s happened in the world,” Tirone continued. “It just makes students feel more secure and improves the well-being of campus.”

At this hour, a lone police officer remains stationed at the rock, and there is no indication of any credible threat, officials say.

“If it’s found to be students, there will be disciplinary action taken, as in any other case,” Tirone said. She is unsure whether criminal charges would be filed. “Right now we’re just trying to figure out who did this,” she said.

Tirone was speaking on behalf of YSU President Jim Tressel, who is away from campus. Tressel has been briefed twice on the incident, she said.

YSU police are expected to issue a statement later today.

At 11 this morning, an alert was sent to YSU students. “There is no credible threat to the campus at this time,” the alert stated, nor that any threats have “been validated at this time.”

The alert asked students who have information about the vandalism to come forward or go to YSU.edu/police and click on “anonymous reporting.”

Students reacted to the vandalism with postings on Twitter.

Said Kelly Matanin, “Stuff like this makes me embarrassed to say I go to YSU. … People are so incredibly ignorant.”

Another post, by Alex Welsh, said, “Whoever did this to the rock need [to be] expelled. ISIS is not some job. Terrorism is not a joke.”

–– Reported by Dan O’Brien and Andrea Wood.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.