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Woman charged with bomb threats at Quinnipiac to stop graduation

Danielle Shea didn't attend classes this year but went to graduation where police said she made a bomb threat

This college commencement season has been marked by attention over high-profile speakers who canceled because of political angst on campus over their appearance. In Connecticut a woman at Quinnipiac University was arrested on suspicion of phoning in a bomb threat to try to cancel a graduation ceremony because she was not getting a degree.

Danielle Shea of Quincy, Mass., is charged with phoning in the threats before the graduation ceremony at Quinnipiac, where she had attended school but skipped the last year while taking money from her relatives, who thought she was still going to classes, police said. Shea was wearing a cap and gown when she was arrested and her family was in the audience for the commencement festivities.

“She told us that she regrets what happened, but she panicked,” Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. “She said she made phone calls with the bomb threats in the hope that somehow graduation would be postponed. She went to great lengths to get it postponed but she came up with the wrong route to travel.”

Shea, 22, was charged with first-degree threatening, a felony, and falsely reporting an incident, a misdemeanor, Wydra said. She made her first court appearance on Monday and was being held in lieu of a $10,000 bail bond.

According to Wydra, Shea told police that she ran into difficulties and didn’t register for classes in the past year or so. She did, however, continue to accept money from her family, who thought she was going to graduate this year.

When graduation arrived, Shea panicked and made two phone calls with the bomb threats from her cellphone to police, who easily traced the calls, Wydra said. “We assume she was panicked to the point that she wasn’t thinking about what she could do.”

The first call came to police about 20 minutes before the start of the 6 p.m. graduation ceremony, and the caller said there was a bomb in the library. There were about 5,000 people at the ceremony including the 388 graduates and all were evacuated to an indoor location.

The second call came 20 minutes after the start of the ceremony and warned “several bombs are on campus,” adding: “You haven't cleared out graduation. That's not a good idea,” police said.

Shea was arrested at the indoor campus athletic arena, where the ceremony had been moved.

“I recall an incident where someone showed up at graduation but didn’t have enough credits to graduate,” Wydra said. “But bomb threats? This hasn’t happened before.”

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times