At least seven historically Black colleges and universities received bomb threats Tuesday, January 4, 2022, school officials said, triggering abrupt evacuations of students and employees.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Florida Memorial University, Howard University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina Central University, Prairie View A&M University in Texas, and Xavier University of Louisiana reported bomb threats. No explosions occurred.
The schools ordered evacuations or lockdowns and alerted local law enforcement. It was not immediately clear whether the threats were connected or whether they were racially motivated. By early Wednesday, all of the schools had released all-clear notices to their communities.
“Although the threat was unfounded we ask that everyone remains vigilant,” a statement from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff said, adding that the full student body hadn’t yet returned from the holiday break but those who were there were relocated off-campus.
Pine Bluff officials said their school received a threat about 5:15 p.m. Shortly after that, North Carolina Central University police received a call regarding a bomb threat on campus. The five other schools didn’t immediately disclose the timing of their threats, though they said the messages had arrived during the afternoon or evening.
In an “Eagle Alert” email to students and employees, NCCU urged evacuation shortly after its 5:30 p.m. call. An all-clear was issued at 9:15 p.m.
The threats come after three Ivy League schools received similar threats in November and TikTok posts hinting at potential school shootings prompted a dozen school districts across the country to tighten security last month. Law enforcement officials later determined those threats were not credible.
Nationally, the frequency of bomb threats has declined in the past two years, according to the latest tallies disclosed by a federal government data center. But the number of actual bombings has risen — a trend that forces schools to take threats more seriously.
In 2020, the most recent year for which the data center has published tallies, officials said 818 bomb threats had been documented. That figure was about a 20 percent drop from the previous year and about half of the 1,627 threats received in 2018.
But officials reported 428 bombing incidents in 2020, a 71 percent increase from the previous year and the highest number since 2016, when 439 bombings were documented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Pennsylvania suffered the most bombings in 2020, with 113 incidents.