FARGO - North Dakota State University will reopen campus at 1 p.m. today after a bomb threat forced the evacuation off all university property across the city earlier this morning.
Classes and full operation will resume at 2 p.m., university officials said in a statement on NDSU's website. Over the next hour, university police will be unlocking buildings, according to the statement posted over the noon hour. Students, faculty and staff may choose not to return if travel is a concern, the release said.
Police swept the campus today after the bomb threat forced about 20,000 people to rush off university property across the city.
The evacuation order was issued after NDSU received a call including the “threat of an explosive device” at about 9:45 a.m., Kyle Loven, an FBI spokesman, told The Associated Press.
Loven said the FBI was trying to determine if the threat was related to a similar incident at the University of Texas in Austin.
The evacuation caused heavy traffic in the area, as students and others scrambled to get off school property.
“I’ve never been under that pressure before,” said Alexa Corrow, a freshman who was packing to go home to Hutchinson, Minn., when she got word of the evacuation.
One group of students in a car said they had spent 30 minutes in a traffic jam in the parking lot trying to get out, and were still stuck in traffic.
Many students were in class at the time of the evacuation.
“We just got to class and were about to take a quiz,” said sophomore Krista Kappes, from Ada, Minn. “At first we thought it was kind of funny, but now it seems serious,” she said, as she drove and saw several streets blocked off.
Some students left campus on foot when traffic prevented them from getting to their cars.
Freshman Logan Dahlgren and some friends stood across the street from campus, where his car was.
“(I’m) a little angry, but I understand why,” Dahlgren said.
At a news conference, police Lt. Joel Vettel and NDSU President Dean Bresciani said the threat was made against the university in general without specifics, which is why all property was evacuated.
Many students weren’t too worried about the situation, because they’d experienced similar threats in high school.
“It’s serious, but I’ve had threats at my old school, and nothing ever followed through,” said Mickinzie Metz, a freshman from Sisseton, S.D.
Junior Andrew Wiseman, from Bismarck, N.D., felt similarly.
“You should take it seriously, but there were so many of these in high school and middle school,” he said.
Both Wiseman and Metz were waiting in traffic to evacuate.
“It’s probably just a joke or prank,” said freshman Jake Paumen, from Buffalo, Minn. He said his high school experienced a bomb threat that turned out to be a prank.
Bresciani told The Associated Press that the main campus was evacuated, along with the school’s downtown campus and its agricultural facilities. He said it’s difficult to evacuate 20,000 people immediately, but most of the evacuation happened within a matter of minutes.
“(NDSU has) done an extremely good job at handling the situation,” Vettel said.
A number of assisted with the evacuation including NDSU Police, Fargo Fire, North Dakota Highway Patrol and Fargo Police.
Vettel said police have been in contact with officials in Austin, Texas, where the University of Texas also received a bomb threat this morning, but there was no information connecting the two incidents.
This alert was posted at 9:49 a.m. on NDSU's website:
“NDSU is requiring all employees and students to leave campus by 10:15 a.m. This includes residence hall students, who, if necessary, should walk to locations off campus. This also includes the downtown buildings and agricultural facilities.
NDSU received a bomb threat, prompting this evacuation. Updates will follow.
Do not call local emergency numbers for further information in order to permit emergency lines to remain open for emergency calls. Updates to this announcement will be made when information becomes available. This message is authorized and transmitted by the University Police Communications Call Center.”
Two other bomb threats were reported this week in the region. One closed access to Hector International Airport in Fargo and another was reported at the Grand Forks airport.
The Associated Press reports The University of Texas has evacuated all campus building after receiving phoned-in threat that multiple bombs had been placed on campus. Officials say no bombs have been found.
An alert posted shortly before 10 a.m. Friday says people on campus should immediately evacuate all buildings and "get as far away as possible."
University of Texas director of communications Rhonda Weldon says the university received a call about 8:35 a.m. from a man claiming to be with al-Qaida. The man said he'd placed bombs all over the campus that would go off in 90 minutes.
Wheldon says all buildings were evacuated at 9:50 a.m. as a precaution.
It was unclear whether the two evacuations were related.