Temple University’s College of Engineering was the site of a bomb scare on Nov. 2 between the approximate hours of 8:30 a.m. until 1:15 p.m.
Temple Police, the FBI, ATF, Philadelphia Police Bomb Disposal Unit and the Secret Service responded to the discovery of five suspicious packages at approximately 9 a.m. and promptly evacuated the College of Engineering.
“It’s being considered domestic terrorism because there were five devices found in the building and it’s on the campus of a major university,” said Special Agent Linda Vizi of the FBI.
No bomb threat was called in.
At 8:30 a.m., a Temple University employee found what they considered to be a suspicious package inside the entrance to the College of Engineering. After being called to the scene, Temple Police conducted a cursory search of the building and found four other devices and evacuated the building.
The Philadelphia Police department was called and the FBI was then notified.
With the arrival of the FBI came the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The task force is comprised of members of the FBI, ATF, Pennsylvania State Police and New Jersey State Police.
As the Philadelphia Police Department Bomb Squad examined the packages the Temple Police Department then began to evacuate two additional buildings, Gladfelter Hall and Beury Hall, as well as residential homes on the outskirts of campus where the College of Engineering is located.
Gladfelter was evacuated by sounding the fire alarm, but Beury was evacuated by police officers going from room to room. This resulted in at least one classroom not being made aware of the situation in a prompt manner.
“Our instructor didn’t know about the evacuation” said Cathy Riley after being evacuated at 10:30 a.m. from her Biology Lab in Beury Hall.
After physically examining the packages and then x-raying them, the Bomb Squad disabled the devices and the FBI Evidence Response Team took the evidence. The FBI has jurisdiction in this matter because it has been considered an act of domestic terrorism.
“This has to be taken step-by-step,” Vizi said when asked how long the disarming would take. “There is no shortcut to rendering this safe”
Although Special Agent Vizi would not comment on the nature of the devices because the investigation was still ongoing, she was able to say that when the bomb squad had rendered the packages inert, they discovered that none of them were prepared to cause physical damage.
Vizi admitted that there were no explosives in the packages, but the packages were made to resemble explosive devices.
Rumors circulated that writing on a blackboard in one of the classrooms gave directions on the location of the packages. Vizi refused to corroborate or deny the information.
Vizi was also asked if rumors that a professor in the College Of Engineering had been threatened by two male civil engineering students a week earlier and told to look out for something to happen the following week. Vizi refused to corroborate or deny these questions.
Bill Bergman, Head of Security for Temple, assured reporters and students that Temple University would cooperate fully with the Philadelphia Police Department and the FBI.
When questioned on whether there is adequate security in the building, Bergman did say that the College of Engineering has a security guard twenty-four hours a day.