Bomb threats send 3 college campuses scrambling

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by Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on September 14, 2012 at 10:50 PM

HOUSTON – The University of Texas was one of three colleges that received bomb threats Friday.

 

A cryptic text from the University of Texas sent students scrambling Friday morning.

“Immediately evacuate all buildings,” it read. “Get as far away from buildings as possible.”

There was no reason given.

“No one knew what was going on, and I think that’s what triggered a lot of fear,” student Virginia Albert said.

A caller had contacted the school’s president earlier and claimed to be a member of al-Qaida. He said bombs were on campus and that they would go off in 90 minutes.

Administrators, however, waited more than an hour before issuing an emergency.

Freshman Jim Hampton is from Spring and wondered why the school waited.

“It was kind of unsettling after you’d gotten off campus and you realized the bombs were supposed to go off while you were walking out,” he said.

Minerva Perez’s son is a senior. She was among parents in Houston who watched the reports on television as a campus of 50,000 cleared out.

“They’re sitting ducks if something like that happens there,” she said.

Officials say they had been trying to determine if the call was credible. It was not until after they evacuated that they determined it was not.

“If the threat had been ‘there’s something ready to go in 5 minutes,’ then you don’t have the time to evaluate,” UT President Williams Powers said. “You just pull the switch.”

Powers said they will learn from the experience. Others may too.

Similar threats were made Friday at North Dakota State University in Fargo and at Hiram College in Northeast Ohio. Both campuses were also evacuated, but no bombs were found.

Valparaiso University in Indiana also stepped up security after a threat was made in graffiti.

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