Threats Against HBCUs in January, February Came From One Minor, FBI and DOJ Say

The FBI said the juvenile was behind a series of threats made between Jan. 4 and Feb. 1; several universities in D.C. and Maryland were among those targeted

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A single underage suspect is the source of a string of threats targeting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) around the U.S earlier this year, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.

The FBI announced the development in a news release but did not name the suspect. That juvenile is believed to be responsible for a series of threats made between Jan. 4 and Feb. 1 this year, the FBI said.

Several D.C.-area universities were among those that were threatened. Bowie State University in Prince George's County; Morgan State in Baltimore, and the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and Howard University in Washington, D.C., were among the campuses that received bomb threats Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. The threats forced classes to go online at Bowie State on Jan. 31.

"The investigation of racially motivated threats of violence targeting historically Black colleges and universities has identified one juvenile believed to be responsible for a majority of the threats and the Department of Justice has worked with state prosecutors to hold the minor accountable," the FBI's release said.

Howard University issued a shelter-in-place order early Tuesday citing a bomb threat against the campus — just a day after a rash of bomb threats to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States.

Threats also targeted Albany State University in Georgia; Bethune-Cookman University in Florida; Delaware State University, and Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the threats, and President Joe Biden was aware of them, officials said.

The FBI has not released the name of the suspect because of his age, the bureau said.

The underage suspect also cannot be charged the way an adult would be for making the same threats, "given the federal limitations for charging under-age perpetrators with federal crimes," the FBI said.

The FBI and DOJ worked with state prosecutors "to hold them accountable on charges unrelated to the specific threats to the HBCUs," the release said.

"This individual is under restrictions and monitoring of his online activities," the release said.

Other threats made to 19 different institutions between Feb. 8 and March 2 are still under investigation, as are a series of threats to more than 250 colleges, more than 100 high schools and two middle schools that began on June 7 and which are still ongoing, the FBI said.

The threats issued on and after Feb. 8 "appear to have originated overseas," the FBI release said.

Some of those threats were directed to the same schools allegedly targeted by the juvenile suspect mentioned in Monday's FBI release.

Howard University faced a bomb threat the morning of Feb. 14, forcing students and staff to shelter in place as classes and activities were paused. An all-clear was issued that same afternoon.

In April, fraternity and sorority sites on Howard’s campus were found defaced, the school said.

Howard faced yet another another bomb threat late on Aug. 23, which forced a residence hall to evacuate after 11 p.m. during the first week of classes for the fall semester. An all-clear was issued after about two hours, and classes continued as normal the following day.

Just three days later, a second bomb threat that week forced two more residence halls to evacuate. Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said at the time that it was the eighth bomb threat to the university in 2022 and called the threats terrorism.

"People who love and care about [the students], parents, university employees, alumni, and so many others, have had to wrestle with anxiety about the veracity of another terroristic act,” Frederick said at the time.

The FBI said it's working with local, state, federal and international law enforcement partners to pursue those responsible for those threats. The bureau is asking anyone with information to report it by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at tips.fbi.gov.

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