FAMU/FSU Engineering School Threat, Police Try to Track Caller

By: Eyewitness News, Garin Flowers, Julie Montanaro, James Buechele Email
By: Eyewitness News, Garin Flowers, Julie Montanaro, James Buechele Email
FSU police are investigating a call made by a man who threatened to commit "mass violence with weapons."

Photo Courtesy of: Matt Gray

UPDATED 1-10-2013 by James Buechele

Mark Poindexter was one of the students inside the FSU college of engineering building Monday when law enforcement officers entered and told everyone to leave.

Poindexter says students and staff weren't told why the building had to be evacuated.

When asked if he felt there was a lack of communication between the school and the students Poindexter replied "I definitely do."

FSU police chief David Perry says the school's mobile text alerts were not sent out because the situation was under control.

"It was not an actual threat," said Perry. "There was no immediate threat to the campus or potential loss of life."

Monday's incident has brought up a lot of questions about the emergency response system here at the university. That's why university police and the college of engineering will meet on Friday to discuss what they can do better in the future.

"This is just a standard practice to talk with those who've been impacted by these types of situations."


UPDATED 1.8.2013 by Julie Montanaro

FSU police are now trying to track down a caller who threatened to shoot up - and blow up - the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

Officers won't rule out a disgruntled student, but they think it's really a "swatter," someone who makes threats just to see SWAT teams show up with guns and gear.

The call put the College of Engineering on lock down. Within minutes the school was surrounded by campus police and U.S. Marshals.

FSU police say the caller threatened mass casualties at the school.

"You know people have asked me 'Why do people do this?' and I think one of the best and simplest explanations I saw was through a bulletin the FBI put out a while back," FSU Police Spokesman Jim Russell said, "and they just said, they do it because they can. They want to make people run around."

Officers consider Monday's call a prime example of a phenomenon called swatting. Most callers use technology to mask their phone numbers and then call in threats sure to bring tactical teams to the scene.

It's a ploy that's brought police to the homes of some of Hollywood's biggest stars including Justin Bieber. and Ashton Kutcher. A teen was arrested in that case just last month.

"It's not impossible. People do get arrested for this and prosecuted, so you know, if anyone thinks it's funny, you now, it can come back and bite them," Russell said.

FSU students say given all the recent mass shootings "swatting" is far from a harmless prank.

"It's like not funny and just because of everything so recently that's happened and like it's really poor timing to do this," FSU student Zachary Spoerl said. "Maybe they weren't even thinking about that when they called in, but everyone else was."

"It's just scary," FSU student Kyle Langan said.

"And what do you consider appropriate for the caller?"

"Honestly, hopefully punishment to the fullest extent ... like ... this should not be tolerated," Langan said.

FSU police say if the caller is caught, he'll be charged with making a terrorist threat which could carry five to 15 years in prison.

MAJ Russell points out the man who called in a bomb threat to FSU's Leach Center in 2009 was ultimately arrested for it in another state.


Tallahassee, FL, January 7, 2012, 5:53pm by Garin Flowers

Florida State police are calling a threat made to the engineering school a hoax.

It all happened this afternoon and everyone from the building was evacuated.

Sometime this afternoon, several law enforcement agencies went door-to-door in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering asking people to leave. Police say a man called in a threat to cause mass violence with weapons.

Students and faculty were evacuated. The building was closed as law enforcement searched the area. Later, police told us it was a false alarm, what they call swatting, which is when someone calls in a false threat hoping to cause a nuisance.

Classes for today were canceled.

One student told us he was in class and two people ran in saying to get out. He says everyone was calm as they exited the class.

Another student says he showed up and saw officers outside with guns stopping people from entering.

Around 3:00 pm the scene was cleared and reopened but classes were still canceled.


Tallahassee, FL, January 7, 2012, 4:45pm - FSU police are investigating a threat of "mass violence" made at the engineering school this afternoon.

FSU police are saying this is what they call swatting, where someone makes a threat in hopes of seeing law enforcement scramble together and make a scene trying to figure out if the threat is legitimate.

Police say sometime this afternoon the threat was called in. The engineering school is located about five minutes south of the main campus off of Pottsdamer Road.

Students and faculty were evacuated immediately when the threat was made.

US marshals and police scoped the building and found nothing.


FSU Alert

01-07-13 2:43pm Update to Threat at Engineering School
**FSU ALERT!** Updates & Situation Reports - Posted January 7, 2013, at 2:53:39 PM by FSU Police

Normal activities are resuming at the College of Engineering. The ongoing investigation indicates that the threat is of the sort called "swatting", intended to cause the allocation of emergency resources as a nuisance. The threat is being determined as not credible and police will follow-up to determine the source of the call. The FSUPD wants to thank the campus for its calm and supportive response while we checked out the facts.


Tallahassee, FL - The FSU/FAMU School of Engineering is currently on lockdown.

FSU has issued an FSUAlert about the incident stating that police are on scene and investigating.

Stay with WCTV for more information.

FSU Alert

01-07-13 1:45pm - Threat made to person at Engineering School
**FSU ALERT!** CURRENT WARNINGS Updates & Situation Reports - Posted January 7, 2013, at 1:51:46 PM by FSU Police

The FSU Police Department is investigating a phone call from an unknown individual who has made a threat against an individual at the Engineering School. The credibility and reliability of the call is not confirmed. In the case of a determined threat to the university, alert protocols will be utilized. Police are on scene and investigating. Individuals in the area will be directed away by police for the time being. Check back here for updates and follow any alerts that may be put out.


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