Bomb threat cancels classes

Buildings were evacuated and classes dismissed after the University Police Department received a bomb threat at approximately 3:45 p.m. Tuesday.

No bomb was found.

Blegen Hall, the Social Sciences Building and Anderson Hall on the West Bank were specifically mentioned as targets in the threatening e-mail sent to the UMPD general e-mail account at 9:45 a.m., University Police Chief Greg Hestness said.

The e-mail wasn’t discovered until about 3:45 p.m., Hestness said. The threat was not specific about a time and did not state a motive, he said.

Hestness said University Police, Facilities Management and Emergency Management responded to the threat, and searches of the buildings began at about 4 p.m.

Authorities did not respond to the threat until around 4 p.m., which University spokesman Dan Wolter said was due to the large volume of e-mails sent to that account daily.

“This is checked several times throughout the day,” he said. “This was acted upon as soon as it was located.”

The buildings involved were evacuated and classes were canceled for the day to ensure a thorough search of the area.

In a statement e-mailed at 5:08 p.m. Tuesday, Wolter said the search was complete and nothing suspicious was found.

Still, the evacuated buildings remained closed for Tuesday evening, but were slated to reopen Wednesday in time for classes and scheduled events.

Wolter said the e-mail account from which the threatening message originated appears to be traceable and police will investigate the sender further.

Jason McDonald, a facilities management employee who was on duty during the bomb threat, said he was told police believe the e-mail originated from a Cedar-Riverside area coffee shop.

He said he was notified of the threat between 3:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m., when he began his shift.

Wolter said searching big buildings such as those mentioned in the threat is time-consuming.

“Typically, it is a room-by-room search looking for anything unusual,” he said, during the investigation. “This will be rather complicated, as these are large buildings. It’ll be a heavy people-power activity.

Mary Sienko, marketing manager for Parking and Transportation Services, said although Blegen Hall was evacuated, the Campus Connector route that stops on Washington Avenue outside the hall remained operational.

“Washington Avenue is still open, and traffic will proceed as normal,” she said Tuesday. “Right now, we’re not planning to do any altering of shuttle routes.”

The University has received two bomb threats in the past year: one in April regarding several Northrop Mall buildings and one in September in Weaver-Densford Hall.

“If you look back through modern history, there (are) not many examples of bomb threats being phoned in and actual bombs being found,” Wolter said.

Police will “act aggressively” to find whoever made this threat, Wolter said.

“It is unfair,” he said. “It hugely disrupts a lot of people, and these are very large buildings.”

-Emma Carew, Justin Horwath, Jake Grovum, Mike Rose, Karlee Weinmann, Kathryn Nelson, Mitch Anderson, Allison Wickler and Vadim Lavrusik contributed to this report.