Seven different Pitt on-campus buildings receive bomb threats Wednesday

By Mallory Grossman & Andrew Shull

The Pitt News, U. Pittsburgh via UWIRE

U. Pittsburgh received seven bomb threats in the span of 11 hours on Wednesday, all to different campus buildings.

The campus received three sets of threats: at Thackeray Hall; at the Cathedral of Learning, Posvar Hall and Litchfield Tower C, and at Victoria Hall, the Frick Fine Arts building and the Music Building. This brings the total bomb threat count of the semester up to 19, with 12 of the threats occurring this week.

Pitt police Chief Tim Delaney said if the person or people conducting the threats is doing so because they have a message or an issue, he would be there to help them resolve their issue.

“I want to see if the individual doing this will contact me,” Delaney said. “It may be a student, it may not be a student. Whoever it is, give me a call.”

Thackeray Hall received the day’s first threat Wednesday morning. Pitt sent out an Emergency Notification System alert around 10:15 a.m. notifying people of the bomb threat and advising them to evacuate the building. The threat was cleared about 45 minutes later.

Nearly six and a half hours afterward, another ENS alert notified the campus of three more threats at the Cathedral of Learning, Posvar Hall and Litchfield Tower C. The buildings were evacuated, and the threats were all cleared by 7:30 p.m.

An ENS alert said that Cathedral would reopen at 6 a.m. today.

Two hours after the three threats were cleared, Pitt sent out another ENS alert at 9:20 p.m. for three more bomb threats — this time at Victoria Hall, Frick Fine Arts and the Music Building. The threatened buildings were evacuated, although the Lothrop Hall dormitory, which is attached to Victoria Hall, was not evacuated.

Around 11:50 p.m. the bomb threats at the three buildings were cleared.

Pitt spokesman Robert Hill said in an email that the threat at Thackeray Hall was written on a slip of paper found in a men’s restroom.

Delaney said that the threats for the Cathedral of Learning, Posvar Hall and Litchfield Tower C came from emails sent to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporters.

Delaney also commented on the “person of interest” whom Hill said the University had previously identified in mid-March after the first four threats.

“We handed over their information to the FBI,” he said.

Delaney also said that he did not have a figure on the amount of money the bomb threats are costing the University, given the different number of agencies that are involved. He did say the University would attempt to calculate the total cost at a later date.

“Right now, we’re just focused on responding to the threats,” he said.

Pitt spokesman John Fedele said in an email that the direct costs associated with each incident involve multiple factors, including the secure evacuation of each building and subsequent investigations by Pitt police and partners at the local, state, county and federal levels.

Indirect costs of the threats include interference with class schedules and the disruption of staff and faculty work days, Fedele said.

Pitt junior Jonathan Andrews said he was well aware of what Wednesday’s Cathedral of Learning bomb threat cost him — “about 80 bucks.”

Andrews said that he lost two hours of work to attend his night class, plus the costs of parking, gas and the dinner he had to buy on campus because he was not home.

He also cited other negative effects of the ongoing threats, including the monetary loss to Pitt and the way the threats have affected the University community.

“It’s sad,” he said.

Shortly before the threats to Posvar, Tower C and the Cathedral, Shawn Brooks, the associate dean of students and director of Residence Life, sent out an email to all residence hall students that detailed the hours counselors will be available for students who want to discuss the string of bomb threats.

Resident Assistants in Towers have begun advising their residents to pack backpacks with supplies in the event that another bomb threat occurs in the middle of the night, as did the one that emptied Towers at 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Freshman Kaylyn Farneth, a resident of Tower A, said her RA told residents to pack kits to prepare in case of another bomb threat.

“We were told to pack and to find another place to stay if possible if another threat happens,” Farneth said.

Avi Slone, a sophomore who lives in Lothrop Hall, said that housing carts are now in the lobby of the dormitory.

“I’ve heard from many, many people that they’re getting ready to pack up and go home,” Slone said.

Staff writers Pat McAteer and Michael Ringling contributed to this report.

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