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Student behind USF Poly Baker-Acted

Law enforcement authorities said that a man prompted USF Polytechnic to suspend classes for most of Monday after allegedly making threats of hurting himself as well as staff members at Polk Community College (PCC).

Randy M. Thurston, 39, was a student of PCC and a part-time employee at the Winter Haven campus. Contact information was not immediately available for Thurston.

Thurston was suspended from work for multiple allegations of sexual harassment, according to a Winter Haven police news release. Thurston called his therapist, threatening to harm himself and those who “lied about the sexual harassment charges.” Police in Zephyrhills took Thurston into custody under Florida’s Baker Act.

Though the threat occurred at the Winter Haven campus, PCC officials had concerns that Thurston might go to the Lakeland campus, since he had taken classes at Lakeland before.

USF Polytechnic and PCC Lakeland share the campus.

When word was received at Lakeland that PCC would close, USFP had no choice but to follow its lead.

“You want to let as many people know in 10 minutes,” said University Spokesman Michael Hoad. “The simple, fastest way of getting the message was through MoBull.”

Since MoBull can’t differentiate between students from branch campuses and those of the main campus, the message was sent to about 46,000 students, he said.

Director of University Advancement David Steele said that by the time MoBull was alerted, the Lakeland campus had already been evacuated.

Classes will resume as normal Tuesday at all campuses.