Pitt goes 6 days with no bomb threats

As the end of the year nears, students are happy to no longer feel under siege.

Posted: April 29, 2012

PITTSBURGH - University of Pittsburgh students were cautiously optimistic Friday after six days without a bomb threat.

Scores of threats over a two-month period, many by anonymous e-mails, caused major disruptions to classes and campus life. The threats stopped April 21 after school officials withdrew a $50,000 reward offer for information about the person or people involved.

On Friday, some students were already trying out gowns for the weekend's graduation ceremony, and showing family and friends around campus.

"I'd like to think that they're over," senior Khara James said. "But I'm nervous for graduation."

Her friend, Kathryn Halstead, said she thinks school officials did a good job handling the threats.

No bombs were ever found and no one was injured. The university has special security procedures in place for Sunday's commencement ceremony, and law enforcement groups say they're still determined to find those responsible for the threats.

The school withdrew the reward offer in response to a demand from a group calling itself "the Threateners." The group said in an e-mail the threats would stop if the school withdrew the reward.

Former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole said the school did the right thing.

O'Toole said some aspects of the e-mail message were telling. "The Threateners" claimed they were angry at the school for posting a reward "for some young kid who'd pranked the university," but also claimed they were separate from the person who sent the first written threats, which appeared on school building walls.

"I think it's all the same person," O'Toole said, adding that it doesn't make sense for a group of people to stand up for whoever started making the threats in mid-February. "It almost sounds like whoever is involved really is trying to make it go away."

O'Toole said the threats may have started as a prank and then got out of control.

In hindsight, some parents say their college-age children learned valuable coping skills from the ordeal.

Jeanine Moore came from the Allentown area to pick up her daughter, a freshman who was twice roused from her dorm in the middle of the night because of the threats.

"She developed some necessary life skills," Moore said. "I feel it's better sooner than later."

Pitt officials declined to comment.

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