By Airielle Lowe,
Howard University News Service
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) issued an all-clear today after investigating Howard University’s fourth bomb threat since the start of the new year. It has been only about two weeks since the university received its third threat, along with numerous other HBCUs at the time.
MPD and Howard’s Department of Public Safety “swept the campus and identified the threat actor,” the university said in a statement. “No active devices were found. All facilities, grounds and campus access points have been cleared and deemed safe for regular business and access.”
“The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces are leading the investigation into the nationwide series of bomb threats to HBCUs,” the university added.
Howard students received a university message at 10:55 a.m. regarding a “credible threat” being investigated and calling for an “emergency shelter in place.” They also received two alerts on the Bison Safe app at 11:22 a.m. The all-clear notification occurred about 1:10 p.m.
“I was sitting in my room preparing to leave to go to the library, and I was shocked and confused,” LeAnne Roberts, a legal communications major, recalled after seeing the message. “When it said ‘credible’ … I knew that I would not be on that campus today.”
Everyone on campus was required to shelter in place at the buildings where they were currently stationed or to enter the nearest building, whether that included dorms or academic buildings. The university also stated that, “auxiliary services, instruction and activities are paused or amended during this active order.” Students reported not being able to leave or enter any buildings following the emergency order.
Caleb Brown, a senior TV and film major, was on campus when the emergency shelter order was given and was one of the students stuck in the Met Building where the Cathy Hughes School of Communications has relocated temporarily. “SOC got the door blocked they won’t let people leave,” Brown tweeted. About 15 minutes later, he followed up by saying that the school had put everyone in an auditorium and began “playing music.”
Ryan Thomas, a senior majoring in journalism, described the climate on campus after everyone was able to resume their activities.
“I saw multiple unidentifiable law enforcement vehicles on campus,” Thomas said. “The vibe of students felt off but also, sadly, unfazed because this is something that has happened multiple times before with little resolution.”
Roberts, however, was not unfazed. “I feel like admin needs to immediately go online,” she said. “Even after a shelter in place, it’s not enough. The energy is off for everyone, because we just thought about a building possibly blowing up and killing us or our peers.”
The Department of Public Safety is offering another emergency training session on Tuesday. “Officials will continue to monitor campus internal and external areas,” the university said.
Howard is not the only HBCU to become a target to threats yet again. Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, reportedly received bomb threats this morning as well.
“I think it is radical that Howard students and other HBCU students continue to come to campus and learn and exercise that right,” Thomas said.
Airielle Lowe is a reporter and regional bureau chief for HUNewsService.com.
For more information, see “HBCUs Brave Bomb Threats at Start of Black History Month.”
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