Student makes bomb threat in response to derogatory comment about Islamic faith

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UT-Brownsville police arrested 25-year-old Henry Dewitt McFarland III, a UTB student and resident of Harlingen, in his apartment Sunday afternoon. UTB police chief John Cardoza said McFarland called a crisis hotline at around 2 a.m. that day and said he had a bomb he was going to use to “blow up” a fellow student. Cardoza said McFarland claimed to be upset with the other student because the student had made a derogatory comment about the Islamic faith, which McFarland said he was in the process of joining.

McFarland is currently being held in the Carrizales-Rucker Cameron County Detention Center in Olmito. Cardoza said McFarland said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of having served in the Marine Corps. UTB police said they believe this case is not related to Friday’s bomb threat at UT-Austin, but they are looking at all recent similar incidents across the nation for a connection.

McFarland has been charged with making a terroristic threat, a third degree felony in this case, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, in addition to possible civil liabilities.

Cardoza said police located McFarland by tracing his call and listening to the message on McFarland’s answering machine.

No bomb was found in the man’s apartment, and it was declared clear by 4 p.m. Sunday by the Brownsville police department’s bomb squad. The Harlingen and Brownsville police departments assisted UTB police with the investigation and arrest.

Cardoza said his main concern throughout the investigation was the safety and welfare of all parties involved, including authorities and the general public, leading him to treat the situation very carefully.