Bomb hoax shuts down Louisiana campus

  • Article by: JANET McCONNAUGHEY
  • Associated Press
  • July 16, 2014 - 3:50 PM

NEW ORLEANS — The bomb threat that shut down one of Louisiana's largest universities for a day was a hoax, Louisiana State Police said Wednesday, after disposing of a suspicious device and evacuating the campus.

Although teams were continuing to search the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus, investigators found no explosives in a device uncovered after a man called in threats to a television station, Master Trooper Brooks David said Wednesday.

"It was a hoax device," he said.

David said university or campus police thought they might have found a second device in a nearby campus parking garage, but it turned out not to be anything suspicious.

David said he did not know what the fake bomb looked like or how investigators disposed of it. Such information probably would not be released because it might hamper the investigation, he said.

The university evacuated its 1,500-acre campus and canceled classes and other activities for the day, busing students who were on campus to City Hall and an event center, university spokeswoman Kathleen Thames wrote in emails.

Letitia Walker, news director at KATC-TV, said the station's morning producer received a phone call at around 5:30 a.m. that a bomb had been placed in a white trash can at Girard Park and that a second device had been placed on the university campus. Walker said the station immediately notified police.

The area around the park, including the 1,500-acre campus, was blocked off as a precaution.

"I just rode my bike to work and the whole park's surrounded by police," Tim Broussard, an employee at nearby Renaissance Market, said about 9:30 a.m. "It's normally a very quiet, peaceful place — people walking, jogging, playing tennis, swimming."

A university tweet posted at about 7 a.m., told staff and students to stay away or remain in on-campus apartments. The university about 125 miles west of New Orleans has nearly 18,000 students.

About 5,500 are enrolled in summer school and 400 incoming freshmen were scheduled to start orientation Wednesday, said university spokeswoman Kathleen Thames. She said about 550 of the summer school students and 150 freshmen were staying on campus.

The university reopened its dormitories and apartments Wednesday afternoon, with the library, dining hall and a third building reopening a bit later. Classes will resume Thursday.

The school used its emergency notification system to reach staff and students on personal communication devices, another spokesman said.

The FBI set up a hotline — 1-800-CALL FBI — for anyone with information about whoever made the calls.

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