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Mental health plays role in threat case

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By Sean Mason

The Stonehill College student charged with making a bomb threat against the College was interim suspended and barred from campus and is now undergoing evaluation at a psychiatric ward until Nov. 9.

Benjamin DiBiase, 21, of Wellesley, Mass., was ordered to undergo a 20-day psychiatric evaluation at the Bridgewater State Hospital by Taunton District Court Judge Paula J. Clifford at his dangerousness hearing Tuesday, Oct. 20. The hearing will resume Nov. 9.

DiBiase is charged with possession of a hoax incendiary device, defacing property, and making a bomb threat with serious public alarm. Attorney J. Drew Segadelli is representing him.

DiBiase plead not guilty to all the charges at his arraignment Oct. 15. The charges were lodged following an investigation by Stonehill Campus Police. Authorities said the suspect did not have access to a gun.

At the arraignment, Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Michael Sheehan told the court that DiBiase is a commuter student who used to live on campus. He moved home recently to concentrate on dealing with issues related to his mental health, Sheehan said.

According to the College, DiBiase transferred to Stonehill in 2014 and is a junior studying management.

Sheehan told Judge McCallum that DiBiase apparently made the threat because he is “fascinated with school shootings” and wanted to get out of a calculus exam that was to take place the day the threat was discovered.

DiBiase, wearing a Stonehill shirt, showed little emotion during his arraignment hearing Oct. 15. His mother and father were in the courtroom during the proceeding, crying.

According to the police report filed in court, custodian Gabriela Roias found a box labeled “BOMB” and a threatening note against the College in a Student Union bathroom Sept. 24.

“A bomb will go off today around 3:30 pm. Shootings will occur tomorrow all day. It will be like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Virginia Tech all over again. There will be no survivors. Blood will be shed,” the note said, according to the police report filed with the court.

The break in the case came when one of the surveillance cameras on campus captured DiBiase drawing a swastika on a bathroom wall Oct. 9 in the Old Student Union building, according to the police report.

The papers filed in court indicated DiBiase admitted drawing the swastika in the bathroom Oct. 9 in an interview with Massachusetts State Trooper Chad Laliberte. After that admission, DiBiase also admitted to leaving a threatening note in that same bathroom the previous month, according to the court papers.

Four days after the graffiti was found, Stonehill Lt. David Bamford reviewed video surveillance from the Old Student Union in an effort to find out who was responsible for the Oct. 9 graffiti. According to the report filed in court, the detective saw a man dressed in a white Stonehill college sweatshirt and “orange or pink” shorts stopped at the area where the graffiti was found. He was eventually able to identify the suspect.

According to the police report, DiBiase told investigators he obtained the box and printed the note at his parents’ home in Wellesley.

DiBiase said he had a “fascination with school shootings” and he had an association with individuals who have connections to Neo-Nazi ideology, according to the police report.

DiBiase did not have access to a gun, but if he did he would “likely kill himself,” according to the police report.

DiBiase said he wrote the note in an effort to have classes canceled to get out of taking a calculus exam, according to the police report.

The town of Easton called for an evacuation of the Moreau Elementary School at approximately 10:30 a.m. Sept. 25 due to the threat at Stonehill, according to the police report.

College officials closed the school at approximately 11:30 a.m. Sept. 25. Students who stayed on campus were asked to report to their residence halls for further instructions. Students who could not leave campus were asked to go to the Sports Complex or the Dining Commons to allow the police to search the college for other threats. No other threats were found, according to the police report.

The evacuations caused a significant amount of traffic outside of the campus. According to the police report, after the evacuation, the College arranged for contractor SIEMENS to install three cameras in the area in which the incident occurred.

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