FBI identifies 6 juveniles as persons of interest in bomb threats at Black colleges
Several Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country found themselves at the receiving end of a bomb threat including schools here in Georgia. Fort Valley State University and Spelman College were among several HBCUs nationwide that received threats, according to published reports.
A law enforcement official says the FBI has identified six persons of interest around the country, all juveniles, who are suspected of making the threats. The official says they appear to be “tech-savvy,” using sophisticated methods to try to disguise the source of the threats, which appear to have a racist motivation.
Officials say this is a disturbing trend that many HBCUs across the country have been threatened within recent weeks.
As a result of the threats, the schools took immediate action to keep students and faculty safe. Fort Valley State University went on lockdown early Tuesday, telling students to remain in their dorms and warning others not to report to campus. Located about 30 miles south of Macon, Fort Valley has about 2,800 students.
The all-female college, Spelman, received a threat at 3 a.m. Tuesday. Located near downtown Atlanta, Spelman has more than 2,200 students. Atlanta police worked with Spelman Public Safety to conduct a sweep of campus buildings and found no explosive devices. “Reports of nationwide bomb threats against several HBCU campuses this week are appalling and raise serious concerns about racially targeted hate-based violence in our communities,” said Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell.
On Monday, Albany State University warned students and faculty on social media that “a bomb threat has been issued to Albany State University’s academic buildings.”
The threats to the Georgia schools came after at least a half-dozen historically Black universities in five states and the District of Columbia responded to similar threats the day before, with most locking down their campuses in response.
Other schools receiving bomb threats include Howard University in Washington, DC, the University of the District of Columbia, also in Washington, D.C., Morgan State University and Coppin State University in Baltimore, Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky, Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Edward Waters University in Jacksonville, Florida, Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi, Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi, Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, and Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi. They all reported bomb threats, according to school officials and social media posts.
Prior to identifying the six suspects, the FBI had released a statement that it was taking action after the latest string of threats.
“The FBI is aware of the series of bomb threats around the country and we are working with our law enforcement partners to address any potential threats,” the FBI said.
Anyone seeking help in coping with the mental or emotional effects of the bomb threats can contact the National Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990.