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May 17, 2012

Campus quiet but threat investigation ongoing

The Pittsburgh campus has remained free of bomb threats since April 21 and a threatened release of personal digital information supposedly hacked from University computers apparently has not occurred.

However, neighboring Carnegie Mellon University received two bomb threats last week. In the midst of finals week, on May 8 an emailed bomb threat was made to CMU’s Sorrells Library in Wean Hall, Hunt Library and Mellon Institute Library.

CMU issued an alert to inform students and employees that police were searching the areas, but no mandatory evacuation of the libraries was ordered. Normal library operations were restored within about an hour.

Another threat, to CMU’s University Center, came May 11. Likewise, while a safety alert was issued, there was no mandatory evacuation.

FBI Pittsburgh spokesperson Kelly Kochamba said the CMU threats are being vetted and treated in the same way as the recent threats to Pitt, adding that CMU is cooperating with the investigation.

CMU spokesperson Ken Walters had no additional information.

Pitt bomb threats

Pitt Police Chief Timothy Delaney said a joint investigation by Pitt police and the FBI into more than 140 bomb threats to the University over the course of 10 weeks this spring is continuing.

Delaney would not comment in detail on any persons of interest, referring questions to the FBI. Kochamba confirmed that the investigation into the Pitt threats is continuing but declined to comment further.

Among the persons of interest who have been identified in connection with the bomb threats are former Pitt-Johnstown student Seamus Johnston and his wife, Katherine Anne McCloskey.

The pair appeared in federal court in Pittsburgh April 17, but a second grand jury hearing set for April 27 was rescheduled for May 22. At that hearing, a judge is expected to rule on whether the two will be permitted to testify on their own behalf before the grand jury.

Johnston, a transgendered man who has lodged a discrimination complaint against the University with the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, has denied being involved in the bomb threats. (See April 19 University Times.)

YouTube cyberthreat

A YouTube video “Anonymous Message to the University of Pittsburgh,” posted April 26 by AnonOperative13, featured imagery associated with the activist group Anonymous and threatened to release faculty and student information the group said it retrieved from University computers if Pitt failed to post an apology on its web page for at least 15 days.

University officials said there was no evidence of a computer systems breach. (See May 3 University Times.)

AnonOperative13 last week posted a deadline of “Monday, May 6” for Pitt to comply. Both “May 6,” which was a Sunday, and “Monday,” which was May 7, passed with no apparent release of data.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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