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After alert to colleges, FBI debunks threats

A day after alleged threats by a Florida man triggered an FBI alert to colleges in Worcester and Providence, the agency notified the schools yesterday that the threats of violence on campuses did not appear credible.

"At this point there's no evidence to suggest that this is a credible threat," said Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Boston. "We are unable to corroborate the individual's threats."

Raymond Ouellette, 43, of Leesburg, Fla., "made statements which were potentially threatening to the public" after he was arrested on unrelated charges at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday at the Motel 6 in Seekonk, according to a statement yesterday by Seekonk police.

Ouellette wasn't charged with making threats, but faced 19 outstanding warrants for unspecified charges in Massachusetts, police said. A spokeswoman for the Osceola County Sheriff's Office in Florida said Ouellette is wanted there for violating his probation after being convicted on a felony fraud charge.

Seekonk police notified the FBI about the alleged threats and, after interviewing Ouellette and launching an investigation, the FBI sent an alert Tuesday night to colleges in the Worcester area and to another in Providence, warning them to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Marcinkiewicz would not detail the threats, but said they were nonspecific and didn't include a date, time, or specific school.

The alert drew a swift response from colleges and triggered fear among some students still unsettled by last week's attack at Virginia Tech by gunman Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 students and professors and then himself.

"Some of my friends are scared; some are going home," said Michelle Vyadro, a junior at Clark University, who launched a blog about campus security concerns after the Virginia Tech massacre.

Vyadro said she learned about the FBI alert from an e-mail the college dean sent to all students. She said that after walking from one end of campus to the other yesterday without seeing any security officers, she didn't think the police presence at the school was adequate .

While more officers wouldn't necessarily be able to prevent a tragedy, she said, "I want to see them on campus, so that if anything ever does happen, we, students and anyone on campus, are protected from the moment it begins."

Jack Foley, vice president for government and community affairs at Clark University, said the school had added an extra police patrol yesterday, notified students, and was being vigilant about a very vague threat, while allowing classes and other campus events to proceed .

"Given what happened at Virginia Tech, people cannot treat these threats lightly, and I don't think people will ever again," said Foley.

Yesterday, Ouellette appeared in Attleboro District Court to face charges that he violated probation set after he was convicted of drunken driving in 1995. He was ordered to serve six months in the Bristol County House of Correction, but will get credit for 79 days he previously spent in jai.

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