Timeline: How Morgan State tackled bomb threats to campus

A review of how the university responded to a threat several bombs were placed on campus early Tuesday morning.


Edwin Moore

Eight hours transpired before the university’s shelter-in-place was lifted after receiving a bomb threat.

Nia Lillard and Onya Solomon

Early Tuesday morning, Morgan State University joined a growing number of historically black colleges and universities that received bomb threats to their campuses. 

At least 26 HBCUs have received bomb threats within the past four weeks. The threats began on Jan. 5 and most recently took place on consecutive days this Monday and Tuesday.

The threats targeting HBCUs have led to campus lockdowns and federal investigations. On Wednesday, the FBI identified six persons of interest connected to the multitude of recent bomb threats.

The ‘racially motivated’ threats were schemed by six minors through advanced methods to hide the direct source.

Below is a timeline of events that took place Tuesday morning following the threats made to Morgan’s campus.

5:00 A.M. — University receives bomb threat to campus

President David Wilson was informed by Lance Hatcher, Morgan State chief of police, the police department received a phone call stating there were several bombs on the campus. 

“Upon receiving that information, we immediately went into crisis management mode and we started strategizing on how to make sure that our campus was safe,” Wilson said. 

“We didn’t know if this was a hoax, or it was not. My immediate attention upon hearing this was about the students who are residing on campus and their safety”, Wilson added.

To increase the police presence on campus, Hatcher held over the officers who were about to change shifts due to the time change.

At this time, Wilson decided to immediately move all classes virtually and instruct faculty to telework. 

“I immediately made the decision…so individuals would not come to campus when the campus would not be ready to receive them,” Wilson said. 

Wilson then reached out to members of his senior leadership team to alert them of the situation.

6:13 A.M. — Shelter-in-place activated and access to campus closed

The university publicly announced the bomb threat to the Morgan community through MSU Announce, social media and its website. 

The university closed access to campus and shifted to remote instruction. On-campus students were also advised to shelter-in-place until further notice. 

Wilson then planned a campus-wide search split into three phases. The search consisted of  searching through all residential halls on campus, then the University Student Center (USC), and 

finally all academic and office buildings. 

8:18 A.M. — President Wilson address bomb threats in an email

Wilson shared an email with the Morgan community in which he addressed the threats received on campus. 

“A few of you have contacted me to inquire as to whether or not this is real. Unfortunately, and sadly, it is,” Wilson said.

Wilson then shared that nothing was found in any residential facilities and searches were taking place in Rawlings Dining Hall and the University Student Center in order to resume dining services for students on campus.

10-10:30 A.M. — On-campus residence halls and a few campus buildings cleared of threat

Wilson received a phone call from Hatcher stating no items were located in the student center or the academic quad and the officers were making their way to other buildings. 

1:30 P.M. — No bombs found on campus

Following an extensive search throughout campus, and residential buildings on and off site, the university announced that no suspicious items or activity were discovered on campus. 

The shelter-in-place was lifted, an all-clear was issued and students were allowed to move freely on campus. However, building access remained limited and classes continued remote instruction. Rawlings Dining Hall reopened to accommodate students living on campus.

Following the all-clear, the university announced Wednesday will be a normal day of operations.

“All of our operations will be up and running. A full face-to-face instruction for students who signed up for it, restoration of food services and activity in and out the Student Center, the library and other places on campus,” Wilson stated.

He hopes the perpetrator of these phone calls to HBCUs nationwide will be caught and prosecuted in order to end the disruptions to campuses across the country. 

“We are sending a message to the FBI and to Homeland Security and other federal agencies as well as the US Department of Justice that we want to pursue the perpetrator here vigorously and find out who it is and bring them to justice because they are creating havoc across our campuses and this has to stop,” Wilson added.

After the latest threats to HBCUs on Monday and Tuesday, the FBI is taking action in investigating the matter.

“The FBI is aware of the series of bomb threats around the country and we are working with our law enforcement partners to address any potential threats,” the FBI said.

After Tuesday’s events, Wilson voiced his final thoughts on how the university will move forward. 

“My message to the university community is to stay strong and to continue to draw our strength from the sacrifices made by those who came before us…and so as President, I will certainly be out there leading the way and Morgan is going to always be stronger and always more numerous,” Wilson said.