More than a dozen HBCUs investigating bomb threats reported over last two days

WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the second day in a row, several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are investigating bomb threats on campus and some schools are cancelling classes because of concerns.

Both the FBI and ATF say they are aware of bomb threats received at HBCUs and they are working with law enforcement partners to address any potential threats.

More than a dozen HBCUs nationwide are investigating bomb threats over the last two days.

“It feels like an assault. It feels like someone has come in and trespassed against a very sacred space,” said Dana Perry, HBCU parent.

Perry’s son attends Albany State University which is one of the schools that responded to a bomb threat Monday.

Howard University in Washington, D.C. reported threats three times in less than a month.

“It feels as if we’re being hit just where we’re comfortable and in that strategic to kind of a nerve us, so that’s unnerving for me,” said Perry.

The most recent ATF data shows bomb threats nationwide decreased over the past several years but the amount of actual bombings has gone up.

It’s forced schools to take the threat seriously and put students on high alert

“You’re going to classes, you’re going throughout your day, nobody stops to think what if that could happen so it makes me nervous for my university and other universities too,” said Whitey Thomas, a senior at Southern University and A&M College.

Congressman Bennie Thompson who leads the Committee on Homeland Security called the threats disturbing and disheartening. In a written statement, he said “it is not lost on me that these threats are targeting African American educational institutions at a time when we are observing black history month.”

Back on HBCU campuses, some students are thinking ahead.

“Just in case that happens what am I going to do, how am I going to handle it, how can I kept myself calm, how can I get home quickly,” said Thomas.

Members of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus say solving these crimes should be a top priority for federal law enforcement.

No bombs have been found at this time.

But in a statement from Howard University, a spokesperson said the incidents have been a drain on the institution’s resources and “an unnecessary mental burden on individuals trying to learn and work on our campus.”

FULL STATEMENT FROM HOWARD UNIVERSITY:

“In recent weeks, several historically Black colleges and universities nationwide have been subjected to anonymous bomb threats, with the most recent being this morning. Fortunately, these threats have not yielded any credible danger to our, or any other, community; but they have become a drain on institutional and municipal resources and an unnecessary mental burden on individuals trying to learn and work on our campus.

The University maintains a strict protocol of alerting the campus community and partnering agencies upon the receipt of a threat. We make every attempt to follow guidance issued by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to engage the individual making the threat and secure more details about potential location, device type and the location of the caller.

An immediate evacuation of the facility or area where employees or students may be located is completed to ensure that no one is in harm’s way in the event of a detonation or the discovery of an explosive device. This is in accordance with federal and municipal recommendations about how to protect life and property in the event of a bomb threat.

We work with available city and federal agencies to sweep buildings and grounds to find devices that may be in suspicious packages or hidden in trash receptacles, work areas, foliage and other obscure places on campus. The rules of a threat response are guided by when a threat is received, the density of people or property in an area, and actions to take place once an “‘all-clear” is given. It is important to note that, even after an all-clear is given, we must all remain diligent about our surroundings and activity or materials that may be out of place on campus.

Make no mistake: We have remained on alert on campus since the very first threat and have not stopped our work of assessment and scaled surveillance for suspicious activity, in partnership with local and federal law enforcement. We are committed to, and confident in, the work of our on-campus police force and partnerships with regional agencies in ensuring safety and stability for our campus community.”

  • Howard University’s Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Marcus Lyles