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Wesleyan U. suspect’s family: ‘Turn yourself in’

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Anxious students at Wesleyan University huddled in their dorms Thursday and the city’s only synagogue was shut down as authorities said a man wanted in the shooting death of a Wesleyan student may now be targeting the school and Jews.

Johanna Justin-Jinich, 21, was shot several times Wednesday by a gunman wearing a wig at her job inside Broad Street Books, a popular student bookstore. Two years ago, she complained to police the suspect, 29-year-old Stephen P. Morgan, stalked and threatened her.

Police told the university that Morgan expressed threats in his personal journals toward Wesleyan and its Jewish students, the school said.

“Investigators have been in contact with Wesleyan University and leaders of the Jewish community, urging both to be extra vigilant,” Middletown Police Chief Lynn Baldoni said.

Justin-Jinich, of Timnath, Colo., came from a Jewish family, said her former stepmother. Morgan’s brother told The Associated Press he wasn’t anti-Semitic. His family issued a statement urging Morgan to turn himself in “to avoid any further bloodshed.”

University officials told students to stay indoors and staff members to stay home. The spring semester ended Tuesday and finals are scheduled for next week.

Most buildings on campus, including cafeterias and the library, were locked. Normally bustling sidewalks were empty and police cruisers patrolled the campus. In dorms, students dressed in flip-flops, gym shorts and pajama pants shuffled downstairs to pick up box lunches of roasted vegetable, tuna fish or cheese sandwiches.

“We’re supposed to do some work, but really I just keep checking my e-mail and checking on friends and letting people from home know that I’m OK,” said freshman Christina Yow, of China. “Anything to distract.”

Brenna Galvin, a sophomore from Amherst, N.H., said her family was considering bringing her home.

“It’s hard to know what to do,” she said. “Really, we’re just trying to keep in touch with people at home.”

Morgan’s last known address was Swampscott, Mass. His brother, Greg Morgan, told the AP that the family is distraught over the shooting. He said they have not spoken to Morgan in several weeks.

“I am devastated by what happened to this young girl at Wesleyan,” he said. “We’re just absolutely distraught over everything that’s gone on. We’re just hoping that they find my brother and no one else gets hurt.”

Greg Morgan said his brother has not shown anti-Semitism in the past. “My brother was a very sweet person and had a big heart and I hope he’s OK,” he said.

Family members have tried to contact him, but don’t know where Morgan is, Greg Morgan said.

Diana Morgan, his youngest sister, read the statement to reporters outside the family’s home in Marblehead, Mass., but did not take questions.

“We are shocked and sickened by the tragedy in Middletown and our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim. We have been cooperating in every way possible with the authorities who are searching for Steve. We don’t know where Steve is or where he might go.

“We would like to send him this message via the media: Steve turn yourself in right now to any law enforcement agency wherever you are to avoid any further bloodshed. We love you. We will support you in every way and we don’t want anyone else to get hurt.”

New York authorities said Justin-Jinich filed a harassment complaint against Morgan when they were enrolled an the same six-week program at New York University. In a complaint filed July 17, 2007, Justin-Jinich said Morgan called her repeatedly and sent her insulting e-mails for the previous week.

“You’re going to have a lot more problems down the road if you can’t take any (expletive) criticism, Johanna,” one of the e-mails said, according to the police report.

Both were interviewed by university police, but Justin-Jinich decided not to press charges.

Police would not say why they believe Morgan may target the university or Jews.

“She was just a wonderful kid, very smart, very loving,” said Justin-Jinich’s former stepmother, Karin Radcliffe.

Middletown’s only synagogue, Congregation Adath Israel, is across the street from the bookstore. It was closed Thursday and congregants were considering canceling Sabbath services Friday night and Saturday.

Synagogue president Eliot Meadow said police didn’t offer details about the threats.

“It was a no-brainer to close the building until we knew more information,” he said. “We didn’t know if he was planning something. We’re hoping that they catch him before tomorrow night.”

Wednesday’s shooting and manhunt was the day of Wesleyan’s Spring Fling concert, held annually to allow students to blow off steam before spring semester finals. Several hundred students were already gathered early Wednesday afternoon when police warned them to take shelter from a possible shooter.

Restrictions were relaxed late Wednesday afternoon when university officials and police announced that there was no danger to the public and the shooting was an isolated incident. But just two hours later, police told university students to take shelter again, saying that new unspecified evidence indicated that the gunman was armed and dangerous.

A panel that investigated the April 16, 2007, massacre at Virginia Tech concluded that university officials erred by not acting more quickly to warn students because police prematurely concluded that the first two victims were shot as a result of a domestic dispute.

Justin-Jinich would have graduated next year from Wesleyan, an elite private liberal arts school with about 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students. She was a 2006 graduate of the Westtown School, a private Quaker boarding school in rural southeastern Pennsylvania, about 25 miles west-southwest of Philadelphia.

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