Delaware State University, other HBCUs receive bomb threats

All-clear given in Dover, but classes canceled Monday

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DOVER — Delaware State University was among at least six historically Black colleges and universities to receive bomb threats Monday morning, closing campuses across the region.

No explosive devices were found at DSU or any of the other HBCU institutions that were threatened. They included Howard University, Bowie State University, Bethune-Cookman University, Southern University and A&M College and Albany State University.

It was the second time in under a month that HBCUs have been targets of bomb threats.

Carlos Holmes, DSU spokesman, said the campus was shut down early Monday, after officials received the threat before 7.

Emergency alerts were immediately issued to staff and students, and the campus was shut down to visitors and those living on-site, who were instructed to remain in their residence halls.

DSU police, along with members of the Dover Police Department, searched the campus for explosives and, finding no evidence of a bomb, gave the all-clear just after 1 p.m.

Classes remained canceled throughout the afternoon.

“The Delaware State University police, along with members of the Dover Police Department, have searched and made sure the campus is clear of any incendiary devices,” Mr. Holmes said.

The FBI “is aware of bomb threats received by some Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” the agency said in a statement provided by Jenna Sellitto, an FBI spokeswoman in Atlanta. “The FBI takes all potential threats seriously, and we regularly work with our law enforcement partners to determine their credibility.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also responded to the threats Monday and was working with local law enforcement to continue investigating, Acting Deputy Director Thomas Chittum said.

Monday’s bomb scares came less than a month after a series of threats were made to multiple historically Black universities Jan. 4.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, who attended Delaware State College before it became DSU, said the threats present a serious situation and should not be tolerated.

“I think it’s tragic that anybody would make a bomb threat in these days and times to an institution of higher learning, a school of any kind, a hospital or whatever. I think it’s unconscionable, and I think we need to hunt the people down and give them some punishment,” Mayor Christiansen said.

“You can never take a bomb threat or any type of threat like this and not take it seriously. Multiple agencies, the police, (emergency medical services), fire are all on alert to handle something that could be something or something that might not be something. … It puts a lot of folks on edge and a lot of people in danger.” 

Dover City Council President Roy Sudler Jr., an alumnus of DSU, was also disturbed to hear news that the campus in Dover had been threatened.

“I don’t understand why someone would want to bomb a higher-learning institution unless it’s a hate crime upon African Americans,” Councilman Sudler said. “I’m not sure if there’s a topic or if there is an issue that’s causing the uprise or what the objective is, but I think it is very unfair to the entire nation that we can’t go get an education free from something like a bomb threat.

“It’s truly unfortunate that something like this is still taking place in America.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the threats “are certainly disturbing, and the White House is in touch with the interagency partners, including federal law enforcement leadership, on this.“

“We’re relieved to hear that Howard and Bethune-Cookman universities have been given the all-clear and will continue to monitor these reports,” Ms. Psaki said. “The president is aware. I don’t believe he’s received the formal briefing, but he is aware of these reports and, obviously, as you know, that law enforcement authorities would be running point.”

The co-chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus also released a statement Monday, condemning the bomb threats.

The statement was issued by Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., and Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., who are co-chairs of the caucus.

“We are deeply disturbed by a second round of bomb threats at HBCU campuses within a month,” the caucus said in its statement.

“Learning is one of the most noble and most human pursuits, and schools are sacred places that should always be free from terror,” it said. “Solving these crimes and bringing those responsible to justice should be a top priority for federal law enforcement.”

Mayor Christiansen reiterated those thoughts.

“In these days and times, you never know whether it’s the real thing or just somebody being a clown,” he said. “In these days and times, I would hope that this country has moved forward from racial intolerance and racial division, and I would certainly hope that this is just a trend that reared its ugly head.

“We need to jump on this, and we need to find the perpetrators. If they are some kind of domestic terrorists, then we need to take care of that, and if it’s just somebody that’s just acting like a fool, we need to take care of that, as well.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.