Police evacuate STSS after email bomb threat

Classes in the building were suspended for more than an hour as police searched, finding nothing.

A Hennepin County Sherif's deputy walks a bomb-sniffing dog into the Science Teaching & Student Services building Monday afternoon on the East Bank.

Mark Vancleave

A Hennepin County Sherif’s deputy walks a bomb-sniffing dog into the Science Teaching & Student Services building Monday afternoon on the East Bank.

Kyle Potter

More than an hour after being rushed out of the building due to a bomb threat Monday afternoon, University of Minnesota students funneled back into the Science Teaching & Student Services building at about 3:15 p.m.
University police evacuated the building around 1:40 p.m. due to a bomb threat received via email. The University sent a TXT-U alert at about 2 p.m.
University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said an email sent to University police at about 12:30 p.m. threatened that a bomb would detonate inside STSS at 1:45 p.m.
The email was sent to an account that isnâÄôt monitored constantly, Miner said, and wasnâÄôt opened until about 1:15 p.m.
Miner said the âÄúfairly shortâÄù email threat did not come from a University email address. University police will do some âÄúelectronic investigatingâÄù to try and find the culprit, he added.
âÄúOn many occasions, itâÄôs people trying to avoid some sort of a test or a project thatâÄôs due,âÄù he said.
University police evaluate the credibility of each threat before making a decision to clear out a building, Chief Greg Hestness said.
Hestness said a more specific threat will generally be taken more seriously. University police factored the emailâÄôs reference to an exact time into the decision to evacuate, he said.
âÄúYou donâÄôt make a decision about an evacuation lightly,âÄù Hestness said, though he added that University police will âÄúerr more often on the side of caution,âÄù as in MondayâÄôs hoax.
University police entered the building at about 1:30 p.m. and considered the number of students inside and how many officers were available to help conduct the search. They began the evacuation roughly 10 minutes later, just five minutes before the threatened blast.
Police cordoned off the entrances to the building with yellow caution tape. Guards stationed at each entrance kept students at a distance while police swept through the building room-by-room, aided by two bomb-sniffing Labradors.
Students lounged on benches and sidewalks 30 feet away as they waited for the all-clear to re-enter the building.
Shereen El Deeb, a communication studies senior, was sitting through the last few minutes of her class when she was ushered out.
âÄúA female police officer came in and said âÄòGet out now, weâÄôre evacuating the buildingâÄô âĦ then she just walked away,âÄù El Deeb said as she sat waiting on the walking bridge benches outside STSS. âÄúI have another class at 4 p.m. thatâÄôs supposed to be in this building.âÄù
Students cheered when police exited the building at about 3:15 p.m. and tore away the yellow tape, having found no signs of a bomb. Roughly 1,000 students were evacuated or prevented from entering the building during the search.
Though STSS is a new building âÄî it opened just in time for fall semester âÄî Hestness said the search was easier than most. Other buildings University police have combed through in search of explosives in the past are âÄúmazes, with lots of small offices on every floor.âÄù
âÄîLuke Feuerherm contributed to this report.