Anonymous gun threat made to University of Otago
Police are responding to an online gun threat directed towards the University of Otago Dunedin campus on Wednesday.
The threat was posted by a person known as "NZ Robot" on an anonymous online message board on Monday night.
That threat, which included a picture of a gun, said "If you're in Dunedin, I wouldn't recommend coming to Otago University on Wednesday".
The person made reference to mass shootings and the gunman responsible for killing 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.
He signed off "see you in hell you magnificent bastards".
The thread has since been removed.
Police and the University of Otago were made aware of the threat on Tuesday morning.
The University of Otago has more than 20,000 students on its roll, including about 1200 international students.
One student, who did not want to be named, said she did not "really know how to feel" about the threat.
"We get quite a lot of spoof things. People just joking around and trying to freak you out and cause some drama," she said.
"I don't really want to come to uni tomorrow - it's freaking me out about that, but I don't know if it will stop my day."
Another student, who also did not want to be named, said the threat was nerve-racking, but he felt it had been made because of recent mass shootings in the United States.
"Someone's just trying to be funny," he said.
Many other students commented on social media on Tuesday that they would stay off campus on Wednesday.
"Let's not live our lives in fear," James Maher posted on Facebook.
"That is how we give up our rights as people."
Anastasia Grigg said: "I'm inclined to think it's a sick joke by some horrible person, because this is NZ. Probably avoiding uni anyway still."
Otago police said they were investigating the post with help from the High Tech Crime Group in Wellington.
"Police would like to reassure university staff and students, and the wider Dunedin community, that appropriate measures are being taken in relation to the post," said Inspector Mel Aitken.
"Police take any threat seriously while its source and authenticity is being assessed. Our advice at this time is to be alert and vigilant but not alarmed while our investigation is ongoing."
She said police would have a strong presence at the university.
Aitken said police were mindful of the possibility of "copy cat" threats after high-profile events from overseas.
"We will deal firmly with any individuals associated with any such copy cat threats."
Staff and students would be contacted via email and text message.
A text sent by the university on Tuesday afternoon said: "A security threat has been made against the University of Otago (Dunedin campus) through social media. While the threat has not been substantiated at this time, it is being taken seriously."
The university was working closely with police and updates would be posted on its website as and when required, the message said.
Last week 10 people were killed in a shooting at a community college in Oregon.
Before the shooting an anonymous post on the 4Chan bulletin board said: "Some of you guys are alright. Don't go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest."