Web Connects Mourning NIU Students

With cellphones down, many use Facebook to communicate
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2008 1:21 PM CST
A few flowers are placed by the crime scene tape Friday, Feb. 15, 2008 in front of Cole Hall on Northern Illinois University campus, where a gunman killed five students and wounded 16 others Thursday...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – With cellphone lines on much of the campus jammed, Northern Illinois University students turned to the Internet to let friends and loved ones know they had survived yesterday’s shooting and to console each other, the Chicago Tribune reports. Most logged on to Facebook, where 10,000 joined a prayer group, while others updated status messages to proclaim themselves unharmed.

“(I’m) OK but flustered, upset, and in disbelief,” read a typical message. Cellphone traffic in the region spiked to 14 times normal following the shooting, according to Verizon, meaning many calls wouldn't go through. “I found out by Facebook that one of my friends was a victim,” one sophomore said via Instant Messenger. “She was in critical condition.”