Notes on Bomb Threats and Shootings

Posted on Apr 6, 2012 in Life, the Universe, and Everything | 0 comments

The fact is, the place that you go to school is not supposed to be a place where you worry about your safety. Sure, I picked an “urban” school where you do undertake a certain element of risk by living and studying amongst other non-university associated city dwellers. But it for almost six years it was a place where we were left reasonably undisturbed within the walls of our own buildings.

Until about a month ago, anyway.

Since February 13th, the University of Pittsburgh has received 17 bomb threats, totaling 24 building evacuations and searches. The Cathedral of Learning, the pride and joy of our campus, has been evacuated nine times. And what I think is clear is that this is not some guy trying to get out of his biology test, as was the general theme during the string of bomb threats during my sophomore year in 2007. This guy is doing something else – and even if the police know what it is, us of the general populous can only speculate.

Maybe he’s just playing games with the police because he can – he’s a major news story so he’s getting a lot of attention, he feels smarter than the police because they can’t catch him, he’s getting bolder and bolder to taunt them just a little bit more – prove his superiority over the people who are chasing them. I really feel for the law enforcement personell that must be tormented by this right now.

Maybe it’s a different game – maybe he’s trying to to desensitize us as the folks over at The Patch suggest. Then one day, when we’re “so over it” he’ll catch us by surprise. Maybe he’s creating all this hype for some type of twisted grand finale.

Maybe he’s just a stupid kid who thinks it’s funny and doesn’t quite realize the consequences of his actions.

We can’t know. But it comes entwined with another horrific tragedy that is difficult to ignore – the March 8th shootings at Western Psychiatric Institute. The first bomb threat came a little less than a month before the shooting. And let’s not forget that the shooter, John Schick, had explosives in his apartment. I’m not saying they’re related, but it leaves you acutely aware of the fact that a bombing on our campus was almost a reality just a month ago. It only took our bomb threat-er 6 days after that shooting to start playing his game. It started with a bomb threat every 3-5 days, loosely correlated with times that you expect students to be in classes and with a monday-wednesday-friday at 10am-ish dominance. Then about a week ago – it escalated. Now we’re seeing threats targeting multiple buildings at once, as many as 7 buildings in a day. The buildings are unrelated, house students in a multitude of different fields. Thackery Hall is even primarily an administrative building with only a few classrooms.

But you know what? He didn’t issue a bomb threat on April Fool’s Day.

I don’t think any of us know what to think. The fact that even the District Attorney has now issued a statement and the Joint Terrorism Task Force is involved is surreal. I’ve seen Pitt go through a lot in the almost six years that I’ve been here, but this is entirely different. But hang in there, Pitt, and don’t let one psychopath ruin our spirits.

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