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'All clear' given after bomb threat at University of St. Thomas

Updated: September 17, 2019 06:28 PM

The University of St. Thomas has given the "all clear" after a bomb threat was reported Tuesday morning.

The university sent out an alert at about 8:05 a.m., stating it had received a bomb threat.

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St. Thomas officials said no specific location was given, and officials were investigating. About 30 minutes later, the university sent out another alert that said Public Safety and St. Paul police were patrolling the St. Paul campus, and the Facilities and Design Center was evacuated.

The John Roach Center, Anderson Student Center and O'Shaughnessy Science Center were evacuated, and the university said classes in the affected buildings were cancelled until 1 p.m. with cancelled classes to be made up at a later date.

The university said at about 9:30 a.m. the Facilities Design Center, John Roach Center, Anderson Student Center and O'Shaughnessy Science Center all reopened, and classes in those buildings will resume at 1:30 p.m.

St. Thomas said the buildings were all searched and no suspicious object were found.

This is now the third bomb threat to disrupt the college campus in five months, and students are frustrated.

"Whoever is doing this needs to be caught because it’s putting our our community really on edge," said junior Victoria Szondy.

Retired FBI agent, Kyle Loven, who is not involved in this investigation, said swift action needs to be taken once the person or persons are identified.

"Once that person is identified, I think law enforcement needs to make an example of this person," Loven said.

"My first thought was, wow, they really need to drill down and investigate and find out who may be responsible for these calls," he added.   

Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Lange said the university feels student and staff frustration.

"We share the frustration with our comunity, our students and staff, we are proud of our community and how we come together, we are well trained to respond to situations like this, but we too are very frustrated by it," she said.

Counselors will be available in Rogge Leydan (ASC 364-365) for individuals who want support, and campus ministry is available in ASC 207.

Police are still investigating the threat, the director of public safety said there is no evidence connecting all three incidents. Still, he is making changes.

"'m not necessarily stepping up enforcement as far as bringing on new resources, but we will more visable and more available," Dan Meuwissen said.

University of St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the bomb threat:

"This morning's bomb threat was both frightening and frustrating. It is frightening any time the safety of our students, faculty and staff is threatened. And it's frustrating because this is the third bomb threat our university has received since April. Each of these threats interferes with our students' learning experiences and disrupts our operations.

"We are grateful for the rapid response from Public Safety, law enforcement and the University Action and Response Team (UART). No suspicious objects were found during the search of the four buildings identified in this morning's threat, and operations are returning to normal. I want to assure you the safety of our students is our top priority, and we take every threat seriously.
St. Thomas and law enforcement are actively investigating both this morning's incident and prior incidents. Please know that actions are ongoing, even if we are unable to publicly share details.

"When an event such as today's occurs, we activate our emergency plans and respond immediately. Read the statement summarizing today's response and sequence of events here.

"Our plans include protocols from the Department of Homeland Security and coordination with law enforcement. Students also are encouraged to create a personal safety plan. Finally, as a reminder, counselors and campus ministry are available to anyone who needs support.

"Please remember that many people in our community will be feeling the impacts of today's events. Please take the time to care for one another as one St. Thomas community."

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