Jul 30, 2014

Pitt Tightens Security, FBI Investigating Bomb Threats

The Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating more than 40 bomb threats made on Pitt's campus in the past month.

Pitt Tightens Security, FBI Investigating Bomb Threats

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is asking for the public’s help as investigators try to find who is initiating over the past month.

David Hickton, who is the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said the safety of students, staff and faculty at Pitt are “a top priority” and investigators are working aggressively to stop the multiple bomb threats that are becoming a daily occurrence.

He said the Joint Terrorism Task Force and Pitt police are “actively pursuing the source or sources of (the) threats,” but he would not expand on any leads investigators might have. The campus in Oakland has received at least 40 bomb threats in multiple buildings on campus, many of which have been located at the Cathedral of Learning, since Feb. 13.

"While the disruption and fear engendered by such threats is unconscionable, we commend the resilience of the University community,” Hickton said in a press release Friday. “The University of Pittsburgh is exercising appropriate regard for safety, through its notification system and through evacuations when threats are received and evaluated, while refusing to allow such threats to paralyze the entire University community in its pursuit of learning and teaching.”

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the first threats were scrawled on walls or on paper towels in bathrooms. But more recently, some newspaper reporters have been receiving the threats via e-mail.

"We cannot comment upon the specifics of the investigation, but we will continue to work cooperatively and aggressively in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and the FBI to investigate this criminal activity and to enforce the law,” Hickton said.

He asked anyone with information about the bomb threats to contact the FBI in Pittsburgh at 412-432-4000.

Sunday night, the University of Pittsburgh provost and executive vice chancellor addressed faculty, staff and students, according to the Tribune-Review. They wrote that once a threat has been received for a building and it has been swept and cleared, the university will limit access to a single entrance. Also, everyone entering will have to show a Pitt ID.

The letter stated that book bags, backpacks and packages will not be allowed into the buildings once they have been reopened and the new security measures will reduce the amount of time it takes to clear and reopen the buildings in the event of another bomb threat.

In addition, non-university residents will not be allowed into dormitories.

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