Universities Differ in Their Response to Recent Bomb Threats

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A bomb threat was made Thursday morning via e-mail targeting Texas State University’s admissions building. The building remained closed for the rest of the day.

Photo Credit: David Maly | Daily Texan Staff

SAN MARCOS — Members of the Texas State University community breathed a deep sigh of relief Thursday afternoon after campus police issued an all-clear alert following a bomb threat against its admissions building that morning.

In contrast to the response taken by authorities at UT when a bomb threat was made against their campus Sept. 14, authorities at Texas State University alerted their campus community more quickly and evacuated the area targeted by the threat more effectively.

Texas State University spokesperson Jayme Blaschke said a bomb threat was made against Texas State University Thursday morning through an email to a Houston-based admissions officer’s university email account. The email showed up in her email account at 7:21 a.m., but she did not notice it until later. After she saw it, she immediately contacted her supervisors, who contacted Texas State University police at 8:48 a.m. Texas State University police then evaluated the threat’s validity and alerted the campus community at 9:40 a.m. via email, text, the university’s website, message boards around the campus and computer alerts. Texas State Police took 52 minutes to alert campus after receiving the threat. UTPD took 75 minutes to alert the campus Sept. 14.

Blaschke said the threat targeted the university’s admissions building, so Texas State University police evacuated that building and the 800-foot perimeter around it under the direction of the Austin Police Department bomb squad. That meant the evacuation of two residence halls, Towers Hall and San Jacinto Hall, which house 900 people total.

On Sept. 14 at UT, members of the UT community were alerted that the University had received a bomb threat 75 minutes after police found out about it and were told to “get as far away from the buildings as possible,” resulting in people lingering near campus buildings the bomb threat had targeted, violating the University’s 300-foot minimum distance guidelines used during building evacuations, according to UT’s Building Management & Restricted Access Plan.

In an interview with The Daily Texan Tuesday, Bob Harkins, associate vice president for campus safety and security at UT, said UT has looked into its failure to evacuate the UT community an appropriate distance from the targeted area Sept. 14. He said the University will try not to make the same mistake in the future.

Blaschke said no arrest has been made in relation to Thursday’s threat, and he could not release many details on the specifics of the investigation, as it is still ongoing.

“They have an origin email, and whether the email originated from that web account is questionable,” Blaschke said.

The Austin Police Department bomb squad, San Marcos police, Hays County police, state of Texas police and the FBI assisted Texas State University police with the investigation.

No arrest has been made at this time in response to the Sept. 14 bomb threat at UT.

FBI Special Agent Erik Vasys said the investigation into the Sept. 14 bomb threat at UT is still ongoing.

Printed on Friday, October 19, 2012 as: TX State acts quickly in bomb scare