Howard, Morgan State, UDC targeted in new round of bomb threats against local HBCUs

Howard University, the University of the District of Columbia and Morgan State University were targeted with bomb threats Tuesday morning, forcing shelter-in-place orders and class cancellations less than a day after multiple, historically Black schools were the subjects of similar threats.

Morgan State — the largest of Maryland’s HBCUs — continues to advise its Baltimore campus to shelter in place as police conduct a building-by-building search for possible explosives. The District’s Howard University and UDC each declared an all-clear after campus security, assisted by the Metropolitan Police Department, deemed them safe for business as usual.

Tuesday’s alerts come a day after Howard, Maryland’s Bowie State University, and four other historically Black colleges and universities around the country were targeted by similar calls, prompting shelter orders and a sweeping law enforcement response. All were found to be hoaxes.



In a statement, MSU President David Wilson said that a law enforcement sweep will start with residence halls, followed by the dining hall and the university’s student center so that meal services can resume. Classes will be held online.

“Since sending out an alert earlier this morning about the bomb threat we received, a few of you have contacted me to inquire as to whether this is real. Unfortunately, and sadly, it is,” Wilson said.

“Our history has been one where we have endured all kinds of challenges and disruptions, but we have always emerged stronger. I’m hopeful that these bomb threats to our national treasure, and to many of our other sister HBCU institutions, will be aggressively investigated by the FBI.”

University System of Maryland Chancellor said it was “devastating and despicable that we begin Black History Month with bomb threats at our nation’s HBCUs,” in a statement.

“We stand in solidarity with our historically Black institutions, knowing that their strength is our strength, and that their power — on display like never before — will not be diminished by cowardly acts meant to menace and harm and intimidate.”

Howard University said it received a new threat just before 3 a.m. Tuesday involving “multiple areas” of its Northwest D.C. campus, and asked anyone present to remain in place for over two hours. A subsequent search found no threats, and an all-clear was given.

“Areas and facilities within the scope of the threat have been cleared by the Metropolitan Police Department and deemed safe for regular business and access,” Howard said in an update. “All students and employees are reminded to call 202-806-1100 if they are made aware of any information related to this resolved incident, or any suspected or active incident in the campus community.”

It marked the third time this year that Howard has been the subject of a bomb threat. A threat on Monday had named the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administration Building, but no hazardous items were found.

A UDC public safety official confirmed security investigated a threat made around 3:20 a.m. to its main campus in D.C.’s Van Ness neighborhood, with public safety activity closing part of Connecticut Avenue before rush hour. Campus has since resumed normal operations, a UDC spokesperson said.

At least four of the nation’s other HBCUs were targeted by similar threats on Monday: Georgia’s Albany State University, Florida’s Bethune-Cookman University, Louisiana’s Southern University and A&M College and Delaware State University were all forced to close or lock down.

In a statement, University System of Maryland President Jay Perman said, “It’s devastating and despicable that we begin Black History Month with bomb threats at our nation’s HBCUs, including the USM’s own Bowie State University and Coppin State University, as well as fellow Maryland HBCU Morgan State University.

We stand in solidarity with our historically Black institutions, knowing that their strength is our strength, and that their power—on display like never before—will not be diminished by cowardly acts meant to menace and harm and intimidate.”

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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