Wesleyan University students spent Thursday locked in their dormitories, while synagogues throughout Connecticut were placed on heightened alert after law enforcement authorities investigating a classmate’s murder announced that the prime suspect could be targeting the campus and its Jewish community.

According to faculty and Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Yosef Wolvovsky, the campus was completely locked down as police expanded a nationwide manhunt for Stephen Morgan, 29, who is suspected of shooting 22-year-old Johanna Justin-Jinich multiple times Wednesday afternoon.

“Students and faculty are very much disturbed by what happened,” said Wolvovsky, who directs the Chabad Jewish Center in Glastonbury and together with his wife, Yehudis Wolvovsky, coordinates activities for Wesleyan’s Jewish faculty and students. “The school has recommended that faculty not come into work.”

Friends and family remembered Justin-Jinich, a junior in Wesleyan’s College of Letters, as an aspiring scholar who had a caring soul.

“She’s a really loyal friend,” Leah Lucid, 21, told the Hartford Courant. “She was the most giving and loving person I have ever known.”

History professor Oliver Holmes termed the shooting “a waste of a promising life.” Holmes, who spent Thursday in New Haven, where he lives, said that Justin-Jinich was a member of the College of Letters’ student committee.

“She was very lively, very bright,” said Holmes. “She asked pointed questions.”

In Fort Collins, Colo., a friend of the family described Justin-Jinich and her sister, Leah Justin-Jinich, as very close. They visited their grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, “all the time.”

“They spent a lot of time in our neighborhood,” he said. “I don’t understand how these things can happen.”

In the immediate wake of the attack, Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Northern Colorado, reached out to members of the family, offering whatever assistance they may require in the days and weeks ahead.

Security Concerns

In Connecticut, the Wolvovskys spent the day fielding phone calls from concerned community members and students. The rabbi said that synagogues, Chabad Houses and Jewish community institutions throughout the state beefed up security after briefings from law enforcement agencies.

Citing threats Morgan allegedly directed against Jews in his journal, Wesleyan officials said that Jewish students especially should take extra precautions. Out of an undergraduate population around 3,000, an estimate 800 students are Jewish.

“We’re telling students that we believe the safest place is in their residences,” said Wesleyan spokesman David Pesci. “We’ve asked faculty and staff to stay home.”

Yosef Wolvovsky, who normally teaches a Thursday afternoon Torah class at Wesleyan, said that he wasn’t scheduled to this week because students are in the midst of studying for their finals. As soon as freedom of movement is allowed at the campus, he will visit with anyone who needs counseling. He has also invited any students who are able to spend Shabbat at his Chabad House.

“People are shocked,” said the rabbi.

In the university’s home of Middletown, a Jewish employee of the university said that the community of between 45,000 and 50,000 people was essentially a “ghost town.”

“People are very apprehensive about what’s going to happen next,” said the man, who didn’t want his name published, citing concerns for his safety. “There’s a real sense of concern and nervousness. The campus itself is very, very quiet. The parking lots are empty. There’s a genuine sense of unease.”

Similar sentiments extended throughout Connecticut’s Jewish communities. Holmes said that the Jewish day school his son attends raised its threat level, and assured parents that staff would be extra vigilant.

In Stamford, Rabbi Yisrael Deren, the state’s head Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, confirmed that all of Connecticut’s 14 Chabad Houses were operating on heightened alert.

“We’ve gone over a checklist of items,” said Deren, who also directs Chabad-Lubavitch of Fairfield County. “All of the items on the list were already in place, because security is something we live with on a regular basis.”

Turning to his own community, Deren added: “We have been assured by the local police department that there will be more patrols of our center.”