Bomb threat closes campus buildingsBy Taylor Holland | 11/14/2011 11:03pm
The threat of a bomb that was allegedly set to go off by 5:30 p.m. Monday led to the closing of several campus buildings and investigations by the University of Alabama Police Department, Tuscaloosa Police Department, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to UA officials.
Officials alerted students of the possible bomb threat via email at 2:46 p.m. Monday after UAPD received an anonymous call.
Immediately following the threat, officers from the various departments launched a campus-wide investigation.
“Even though a preliminary search of the buildings indicated that this was not a credible threat, UA asked students and employees to be proactively cautious and avoid the buildings for 30 minutes before and after the 5:30 p.m. timeframe specified by the caller,” said Deborah Lane, assistant vice president for media relations, in a campus-wide email.
Investigators searched the Ferguson Center, Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, the Little Roundhouse, Oliver-Barnard Hall, Mary Burke Hall, Lloyd Hall, Shelby Hall, Clark Hall and Tuomey Hall, among other buildings.
Police also brought a bomb-sniffing dog to search the inside of Denny Chimes, temporarily delaying a memorial service taking place on the Quad. Officers carrying flashlights also searched trashcans, bushes and other structures on the Quad.
Ben Burch, a graduate student in biological sciences at the University, said he saw a large number of police officers heading to Shelby Hall while conducting the campus-wide investigation.
“There were about 15 of them,” Burch said. “They were walking calmly, some were talking on their radios. They did not appear to have much info and didn't tell us any details.”
Students and employees were notified that it was safe to resume normal activity at 6 p.m. and that preliminary searches did not discover a credible threat. However, specific details were not released.
“I understand that UA did not understand all of the details,” said Jamie Burke, a graduate student studying library and information studies. “People were wondering what was going on, but I’m glad they’re letting us know.”
Desirae Washington, a sophomore majoring in management information systems, did not share that sentiment.
“I’m worried that UA just isn’t telling us enough,” Washington said. “Don’t play with student lives.”
Although the threat has passed, Lane said it is a class-C felony to make a terrorist threat and that the University will continue the criminal investigation of the event using all available legal resources.
Kris Mitchell and Melissa Brown contributed to this report.