After bomb threat closes UST St. Paul campus, ‘all clear’ given in afternoon

| April 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

The University of St. Thomas issued an “all clear” alert shortly after 4 p.m. April 17 after closing its St. Paul campus due to a bomb threat.

According to a statement from St. Thomas, the university received the threat by phone to its switchboard at 9:37 a.m., but no location was given. About 30 minutes later, a second call identified McNeely Hall, home to the university’s college of business, as the location of the alleged bomb. That building and two adjacent buildings were immediately evacuated, according to Vineeta Sawkar, the university’s senior media relations manager.

The university later received a third call in which the caller changed the location of the threat. University officials closed the St. Paul campus around 11:40 a.m. Essential employees were asked to remain on campus, while other employees could leave.

Parents were also notified and told they could pick up their children at McCarthy Gym, west of Grand and Cretin avenues.

According to university notifications, the Catholic university was working with the St. Paul Police bomb squad and consulting with the FBI in a search of McNeely Hall.

The university posted to its alerts in the afternoon that no suspicious objects had been discovered, and that the university was continuing to evaluate the situation.

After receiving notification that the campus was closing, students streamed out of classes. Among them was sophomore Sarah Greene, 21, who told The Catholic Spirit she was concerned when she first heard about the threat, but didn’t expect anything to come of it.

“I feel like … we hear this kind of stuff (in the news) fairly often, which is unfortunate, and obviously you have to take each one seriously, but also it’s hard to know how real it is,” she said.

A justice and peace studies major, Greene said her former high school in eastern Wisconsin received at least one bomb threat while she was a student there, so she’d experienced a similar alert before.

The campus closure, however, heightened her level of concern, she said. “It seems more serious now. I live on campus, so I’m still going to be on campus, so that’s not as comforting. … Hopefully this is just a threat, not a real thing. I’ll just pray.”

Fellow sophomore Carlos McMerty-Brummer, 21, said that he was concerned about his safety and the inconvenience of the campus closure. Like many students, he initially learned about the threat via a text alert.

“I was like, ‘Why? Why here?'” he said. “It’s another thing that I don’t want to worry about.”

A Spanish major from Plymouth, McMerty-Brummer lives on campus and would likely ask a friend who lives off campus if he can spend the day at his house, he said.

Freshman Megan Meyer, 18, said her German class was interrupted with the campus closure, but she’s not concerned about her safety.

“I feel like nothing’s going to come of it,” she said, noting she also lives on campus. “I feel very safe. I feel like it’s under control, and plus (McNeely Hall) is far away from where I live, relatively speaking.”

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