DAVE ALTIMARI, HAMDEN, Conn. (FOX CT) — A Massachusetts woman who didn’t want her family to know she had dropped out of school and wouldn’t be graduating called in two bomb threats to Quinnipiac University on Sunday in an effort to get the ceremony canceled.
Danielle Shea, 22, of Quincy, was arrested while wearing a cap and gown inside the TD Bank Sports Center, where school officials had moved the graduation for students of the College of Arts and Sciences after the initial bomb threats came in. Police were able to trace the two threatening calls to Shea’s cellphone. Shea is to be arraigned Monday morning at Superior Court in Meriden.
Hamden police said the first call in which the female voice said “there is a bomb in the library” was made at 5:45 p.m., or about 15 minutes before graduation ceremonies for the College of Arts and Sciences were scheduled to begin.
While Hamden police and Quinnipiac police were searching the library, a second bomb threat was called in about 17 minutes later. The woman stated, “Several bombs are on campus. You haven’t cleared out graduation. That’s not a good idea.”
Police did not find any bombs in the library or anywhere else on campus.
After the second call, school officials decided to move the graduation to the arena. There were more than 5,000 people in the quad area waiting for the 388 students to get their degrees.
Police traced the calls to Shea’s phone and learned she was a former student at the university. Police did not say how they found her inside the arena. She did not have any weapons or explosives.
Hamden police Capt. Ronald Smith said several of Shea’s relatives, including her mother, were at graduation.
“Then mother didn’t see her name on the graduation roster and she panicked and called in a couple of bomb threats,” Smith said.
In an interview after her arrest, police said Shea told detectives that her mother had paid her thousands of dollars this year, money she thought was for her daughter’s education at Quinnipiac. School records show that Shea was not a student there this year.
Shea, who most recently was living in Hamden, did attend the school in 2012 and is listed as having made the dean’s list for the spring semester. To qualify for the dean’s list at Quinnipiac, a student must earn a grade point average of at least 3.5 with no grade lower than C.
For graduation, Shea purchased a cap and gown. Desperate cancel the event to conceal she wasn’t graduating, she made the bomb threats in an attempt to have the graduation canceled, police said.
Shea has been charged with threatening in the first degree and falsely reporting an incident. She was detained at police headquarters on $20,000 bail.
The start of the ceremony was delayed for more than an hour while students and their families traveled about a mile to the arena. Originally scheduled to start at 6 p.m., it finally ended at 9:15 p.m.
The graduation was the third on campus Sunday and was the smallest one, Morgan said. School officials keep the arena available on graduation day in case the weather is bad or changes during the day, so it was readily available, Morgan said.