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The Eastern Echo Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

Campus alert photos

Police still seek source of bomb threat

EMU's Department of Public Safety Chief Lige said Friday that his department along with other law enforcement agencies are continuing to look into the sources of Tuesday's bomb threat.

At roughly 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Lige said the university was notified of an email referencing a bomb and naming specific dorms on campus. That email also referenced a prior bomb threat that the Marriott Hotel at Eagle Crest received April 7. 

The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office in a written statement said a Californian who was the original suspect in Tuesday's incident has been released and was confirmed by police not to be involved. 

On Thursday, April 11, a third email was sent to multiple EMU organizations including the managing editor, editor-in-chief, and advisor of The Eastern Echo.

In this email the writer stated that the Californian who was first considered to be the suspect in Tuesday's incident was falsely arrested. In addition, the email made more threats claiming the university and other locations in Michigan would be targeted if the individual was not released.

Lige said his department and other local, state, and federal authorities are taking the situation seriously, but as of now cannot confirm if the third email is from the same sender as the original two.

"We take them all very seriously and we evaluate each one as it comes in its own merit, and then make decisions on the trust for the safety of the students and staff here. The third email is more general in nature and doesn't specifically mention EMU. It mentions the entire state of Michigan and a number of other sensitive locations," Lige said.

The Eastern Echo reached out to the university regarding this email and received the following response from Vice President of Communications Walter Kraft. 

"The EMU Police Department has been made aware of a non-specific threat against multiple venues in Michigan. EMU Police is among the agencies investigating the matter. All appropriate precautions are being taken. As always, if anyone among our campus community sees anything suspicious at any time they should contact EMU Police immediately at 734-487-1222," Kraft said in the email.

The Echo also reached out and is currently waiting for a response from the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office and Motor City Furry Con, the organizers of the event that were targeted in the Eagle Crest bomb threat.

The Echo reached out to Eagle Crest Marriott, but the individual who answered the phone declined to comment.

According to the Michigan law, a person guilty of making a terrorist threat or false report of terrorism can receive a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.

Washtenaw Sheriff's Office statement 

The statement released by the sheriff's office, included in its entirety below, outlined the sequence of events. 

"*Bomb Threat Update**

"This week, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office has responded to three separate incidents involving bomb threats. Here is an update on the investigation progress for each incident:

"**4/7/24** - Around 8:00 am, several community members received an emailed bomb threat related to the Furrycon convention at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest. K-9 officers conducted a thorough search of the building, and no explosive devices were found. A suspect initially apprehended in California was later confirmed to be uninvolved and has been released from custody.

"**4/9/24** - Multiple emails were forwarded to the Sheriff’s Office, claiming bombs were placed in rooms at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest and in three dorm buildings at Eastern Michigan University. All locations were systematically searched, and no explosive devices were discovered.

"**4/11/24** - Additional emails were received alleging the potential for future bomb threats but without specific threats being given.

"The investigation into the origins of these threats is ongoing, and law enforcement is diligently working to ensure the safety and security of our community."

Bomb Threat timeline

What we know about Tuesday’s threat

The university first received an email at roughly 12:30 p.m. stating there was a bomb in residence halls on campus.

Eight minutes after being notified, the university sent a Rave notification to students and staff on campus to evacuate Wise, Buell, and Putnam immediately with no other details.

Lige said the first notification did not explain the bomb threat because the "initial thought was we didn't want to create a campus-wide panic. So, we wanted to have urgency in getting the messaging out that those areas need to be evacuated.”

Following their procedure, university police with the additional help of housing staff knocked on every door in those halls to ensure that every resident had evacuated. 

Afterward, a K-9 team conducted a systematic search of all the buildings, but did not find any explosive devices. 

Because the original email was specific, university police decided to search only the three dorms at first, but at 12:56 p.m. expanded the search to connected buildings such as Best, Downing, Eateries, and the Commons.

At 1:48 p.m. the university's alert system reported that although the investigation was not over, no evidence of a bomb had been found in the initial buildings searched. 

Lige credits the university staff and other officials involved in this event for handling it in an incredibly efficient timeline.

"We had amazing cooperation from students and staff on Tuesday, and that cooperation helped us efficiently and effectively conduct our search and our investigation," Lige said. "And that relationship is incredibly important to everything we do in public safety."

In case of an emergency on campus

University officials said that if a similar emergency were to happen, students should expect:

  • Another message through Public Safety’s RAVE alert.
  • If the event becomes a prolonged event, students might be relocated to the RecIM, student center, or other locations.
  • If a situation does occur, food and other resources will be available to students.