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SMU law school case gets complex

Suspect left town; accuser hospitalized

Thursday, January 13, 2005

By APRIL KINSER
DallasNews.com

Dallas police said Thursday they were continuing to investigate what has become a more complicated case involving alleged threats against students, faculty members and staff at the Southern Methodist University law school.

Lt. Jan Easterling said the Texas Rangers have contacted the suspect in another Texas city on behalf of the Dallas Police Department and asked him to return to Dallas. No charges have been filed against the man, whom police would not identify, and he has not been questioned.

Meanwhile, the student who initially reported the threats has been hospitalized for what police are terming a suicide attempt.

The case apparently began unfolding last week, when the suspect, a first-year law student, allegedly told a 22-year-old classmate about his plans. Classes were canceled Monday evening after the classmate reported the threatening comments to an associate dean.

"He made comments that he hated lawyers and was very agitated because his friend talked about returning to law school," Dallas police Sgt. Gil Cerda said earlier this week.

Classes resumed Tuesday under a police presence.

Early Wednesday, a woman notified authorities that the man who made the accusations about the threats "had called her and told her he had drunk an unknown amount of alcohol and sleeping pills," according to a police report. Police kicked in the door to his apartment and found him unresponsive, the report states.

Easterling said police have received more information from the accuser since he made his initial report. "Obviously, there is more to this than where we're at right now," she said.

He remained hospitalized Thursday, Easterling said.

In a letter to SMU students, faculty and staff, university administrators note that the student who allegedly made the threats has been "located by authorities in another city."

The university was offering counseling and the chaplainís services. "Obviously, this is a troubling situation for the law school and University community, as well as the families of the law students involved," the letter states.

Making a terrorist threat is a third-degree felony with punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.