Pennsylvania Terror Threats

Title: Pittsburgh Marathon Course Altered By Bomb Scare
May 2, 2010
Fox News

Abstract: A suspicious device near the finish line of the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday prompted police to briefly stop the race after it had begun. The device was disabled and police said it was not believed to have been an actual explosive.

The device, in a small microwave oven, was spotted Sunday morning on the sidewalk next to the Greyhound bus station after the race leaders had finished the course, police Lt. Kevin Kraus said.

The bomb squad determined there were contents that resembled an explosive, and the area was evacuated, Kraus said. He declined to describe the materials that concerned authorities pending a further evaluation.

"Certainly, from what we did see on the X-rays, we were highly concerned," he said.

The disruption came a day after a car-bomb scare in New York emptied Times Square, clearing thousands of tourists from the streets for 10 hours.

Kraus said police stopped the 26.2 mile race in the area for 10 to 12 minutes. The competition resumed after the bomb squad used a robot to disable the device and the area was cleared shortly before 11 a.m., he said.

"At this point, we believe it was not an actual explosive devices, but we are still evaluating the microwave and its contents," Kraus said. He said surveillance cameras in the area were being examined to try to find out who put the device there.

Police could not immediately confirm the race was re-routed. But Karen Fredette, a marathon spokeswoman, said the race was diverted around the block where the device was found but the finish of the race near the David L. Lawrence Convention Center was not changed.

"We're really happy and happy that everyone is everybody is safe," Fredette said.

A crowd waiting for runners to pass at mile 26 saw the first 10 or 15 runners go by and then were told to move up the street by marathon staff, said Kathleen Riordan, 41, of Dormont, who was waiting for her husband to run by.

"At first I wasn't sure what was going on, either. I thought it was kind of strange that they were changing the marathon course," Riordan said. She didn't hear about the suspicious device until she got to the end of the course.

About 5,000 people took part in the full marathon, which does not attract the sport's elite runners.

Katie Miller, 34, of Butler, and sister Jamie Kemerer, 31, of Charlotte, N.C., finished in about 5 1/2 hours and didn't notice any disruptions. The sisters said the only complication was a steady rain that had slowed to a drizzle by mid-day.

"Our shoes," Kemerer said. "It was 5 pounds on each foot" (Fox News, 2010).

Title: Authorities in Pennsylvania Search For Student Accused Of Making 'Virginia Tech' Threat
 October 22, 2011
 Fox News 

AbstractAuthorities in Pennsylvania are searching for a university student who allegedly made a threat on Twitter to kill classmates in a reference to the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

All Saturday activities at Pennsylvania State University-Beaver in Center Township, Pa. -- about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh -- were canceled as state police and the FBI searched for 21-year-old Michael Dewight Mollett.

"We decided to take the precautionary step of closing the campus for classes and activities today," Chancellor Gary Keefer said in a statement on the university's website. "We have alerted all students and staff, and are asking them to avoid campus today. We also are asking any students who can go home for the weekend to do so."

Posts from late Thursday on a Twitter account apparently belonging to Mollett, who identifies himself as a point guard on the school's basketball team, make reference to "creepin tonight," people being "scared as hell" and having a "VT day," an apparent reference to the April 2007 massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech University by student gunman Seung-Hui Cho, who later turned his gun on himself.

Mollett is wanted on charges of harassment and making terroristic threats.

He was arrested by Penn State Beaver campus police last month on charges of misdemeanor indecent assault and defiant trespass. He has previously been charged with receiving stolen property, reckless driving and fleeing an officer.

Mollett's mother, Pamela Lawton, told KDVA-TV on Friday that he has "emotional problems" but she has "never known him to be violent" (Fox News, 2011).

Title: Cops Investigate Bomb Threat At Penn State
 November 12, 2011
 USA Today

Abstract: Police investigated a bomb threat before today's Penn State-Nebraska game in State College, Pa., according to ESPN. Reporter Lisa Salters said on College GameDay that police used bomb-sniffing dogs to investigate an anonymous tip of a bomb at Beaver Stadium that turned out to be false Saturday morning.

The police and search dogs found nothing. Penn State issued an all-clear text alert once the coast was clear, Salters said. The atmosphere around Beaver Stadium has been noticeably subdued this morning, said the former Penn State student, with empty parking spaces where tailgaters would usually be partying.

The bomb threat, and the school's promise of strict security around today's game, combined to create a somber pre-game atmosphere, said Salters. The shocking revelatations of sexual abuse criminal charges against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandudky and the firing of Joe Paterno has left the campus shell-shocked, said Salters on ESPNU.

One tailgater told her that, given everything that's gone on the past week, perhaps some students "don't feel like partying" (USA Today, 2011).

Title: Pitt Gets Frenzy Of Threats As Terrorism Task Force Joins Probe
April 6, 2012

Hours after U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said Pittsburgh's Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating the recent rash of bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh campus, a frenzy of new threats began.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m., the university sent out an emergency alert saying, "A general bomb threat has been received for the Cathedral of Learning. Please evacuate the building." At 6:15 p.m., another alert said: "A general bomb threat has been received for Lothrop, Holland, Forbes and Sutherland halls."

A search of Lothrop Hall ended shortly after 8:30 p.m. and students were allowed to return. Sutherland Hall reopened about an hour later and students were allowed back in Holland Hall around 10:30 p.m.

There have now been 31 building threats on the campus in Oakland since mid-February. All of the previous threats have been hoaxes.

"The safety and welfare of the University of Pittsburgh community is a top priority," Hickton said in a prepared statement this morning. "The bomb threats since Feb. 13 are being vigorously, aggressively and thoroughly investigated through every possible means."

The threats have been written in bathrooms or emailed to university officials and local newspaper reporters.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to the FBI's website, is a cooperative effort of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that work to prevent acts of international and domestic terrorism and to maintain an intelligence network to identify terrorism subjects.

Members include the Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, FBI, state police, Allegheny County police and sheriff's departments and Pittsburgh Police.

"We cannot comment upon the specifics of the investigation, but, we will continue to work cooperatively and aggressively in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and the FBI to investigate this criminal activity and to enforce the law," Hickton said.

Anyone with information about the bomb threats is asked to call the FBI at 412-432-4000. Pitt also offers a $50,000 reward (TRIB Live, 2012).

Title: Wave Of Bomb Threats At Pitt Leaves Campus On Edge
April 9, 2012

Dozens of bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh, including at least four on Monday, have made professors start holding classes outside and forced security officials to put in new building access measures and offer a $50,000 reward for information.

Some students "are definitely afraid," said Brian Haughwout, a junior who had one of his final exams changed to a take-home because of the disruptions.

"But I think just shutting down the university would be a mistake," he said, adding that's probably what the person making the threats wants.

The threats began in mid-February, at first targeting a landmark building at the center of campus. But in recent weeks numerous buildings have been threatened. Four threats had been made by mid-afternoon Monday, starting at about 4 a.m.

Student Dawn Diehl, who's studying for a master's degree in library science, said it wasn't until a few days ago that the bomb threats started to affect her in terms of "my feelings of security."

"So now it's pretty alarming," she said. "We've never had an experience like this. I kind of have that feeling like, where's this going to end?"

Diehl was surprised Monday to find all but one door to the main library locked and everyone's bags being searched.

Under new security measures, students and faculty members will need school IDs to get into buildings. Non-residents won't be permitted in dormitories.

University police, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service have said they have a person of interest in the investigation. Authorities say some of the threats have been traced to or through computers in Austria, but nobody has been charged with making them.

Fifth-year chemistry student Brian Graham said the first threats were written on walls in buildings and he hoped security officers would catch the perpetrator. But, he said, threats then started arriving by email.

"I think it's a little bit more nerve-racking," Graham said of the latest wave of threats. "I have to either stay later or come in different hours. I would be about to leave home, and then there'd be a bomb threat."

Graham says he's confident that Pitt officials are doing what needs to be done to protect students and find the person responsible.

"It seems that they're taking all the appropriate steps," he said.

The threats have caused some professors to move classes outdoors or offer them online and have led some students to stay off-campus. The university, located a few miles from downtown Pittsburgh, has about 3,800 full-time faculty members who serve 34,000 students.

The university is urging faculty members to make arrangements for students to make up classes or exams missed because of evacuations, but it says there are no plans to end the semester early.

No bombs have been found, and nobody has been injured, but police say the building evacuations will continue if warranted. There have been about 25 threats targeting numerous buildings, with some of those threatened multiple times.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton in Pittsburgh issued a statement Friday commending Pitt's response and confirming the threats "are being vigorously, aggressively and thoroughly investigated through every possible mean" by the region's Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the campus police and the FBI (, 2012).

Title: Pitt Alum Arrested For Bomb Threats, But Threats Continue
April 12, 2012
ABC News

Bomb threats to the University of Pittsburgh kept the campus on edge Wednesday night and Thursday morning despite an arrest of a possible suspect.

A rash of more than 50 threats have been made against the university and its officials since mid-February, causing constant disruptions to classes and activities on campus and evacuation of campus buildings and officials' homes.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Pittsburgh University police department and Allegheny County Police arrested Mark Lee Krangle, 65, of Hudson, N.Y., as he arrived at the Pittsburgh airport on a flight from New York on charges of harassment and terroristic threats.

Krangle allegedly sent threatening emails to four professors at the university, and wrote that he was coming to Pittsburgh to get his theories about the bomb threats out to the public, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Krangle's Facebook profile shows extensive musings on the perpetrator and motive behind the bomb threats.

Hours after Krangle was arrested, however, the university received two more bomb threats. Around 10 p.m. on Wednesday evening, students were evacuated from a residence hall after a threat was emailed to ABC News' Pittsburgh affiliate, WTAE, saying "Tell Pitt cops - bombs are in the Litchfield Towers and in the William Pitt Union building on campus."

Around 5 a.m. today, five more residence halls were evacuated due to threats. The university said Wednesday the investigation into the threats is ongoing.

Pittsburgh University police were unavailable for comments this morning. The FBI and Pittsburgh police department are assisting in the investigation, according to a police department spokeswoman.

Criminal records show that Krangle was convicted in 2003 of threatening to kidnap, a felony offense for which he served prison time and was ordered to undergo psychiatric therapy. The court documents from the case are sealed.

On his Facebook page, Krangle claims he received his Ph.D. from Pitt, and offers a link to an e-book he authored about his role in the Jimmy Carter administration. He notes that the federal case against him in 2003 was caused by a letter he wrote to ABC TV, alleging that he had information about the 9/11 attacks before they happened.

Krangle, in his recent Facebook posts, tied the Pitt bomb threats to the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Pittsburgh movement.

"I'm a former Pitt teaching fellow and doctoral candidate who became involved in the intelligence community since leaving. I believe more than one person is involved, directed by a mastermind. I believe the motive is revenge for a host of wrongs committed by Pittsburgh's one percent, though I have no information that the Occupy movement is responsible," Krangle wrote in one post.

A $50,000 reward has been offered by the university to anyone who can provide information leading to arrests in the case.

One recent threat was made late Tuesday night, targeting Chancellor Mark Nordenberg's house in Oakland, according to WTAE. The chancellor declined to evacuate or have the police dogs search his home.

Many professors and students at the university are planning an early exit for the end of the semester, telling ABC News that final exams have been canceled or made available online so students can complete them at home.

"I was evacuated at 4 o'clock in the morning last Monday, and it was honestly really terrifying," student Sarah Halperin told WTAE (ABC News, 2012).

Title: U Of Pitt Flooded By Bomb Threats
September 12, 2012

Early last school year, over forty bomb threats were emailed to the University of Pittsburg, disrupting classes and student life.

Beginning in mid-February, bomb threats began to show up, written on the stalls of Pitt bathrooms. A couple months later came the first emailed bomb threat.

The man charged for emailing a portion of these threats, Adam Busby (age sixty-four), was brought to trial on August 15. The seventeen emails that Busby sent threatened many Pitt buildings and contributed to many of the 136 student evacuations from both classes and dormitories.

After a thorough investigation, it was discovered that Busby was a founding member of the Scottish terror group known as the Scottish National Liberation Army, and that he had a history of bomb hoaxes. Among many other incidents, Busby had also sent threatening emails to Heathrow Airport and federal courthouses in Pittsburgh.

Police, however, believe the initial influx of bomb threats might not have been the work of Busby, but rather another terror group. Nevertheless, the school was soon targeted with over sixty threats to 160 buildings.

Despite the heightened security measures, Pitt students still felt stressed and irritated. Many students were forced from their dorms as early as four in the morning due to a bomb threat.

“Even going to sleep you didn’t know if you were going to get woken up in the middle of the night,” said LM Class of 2012 alumna Zoe Benditt.

Others noted that their irritation towards the bomb threats did not come from feelings of insecurity, but rather from constantly being evacuated while feeling that the bomb threat was a hoax. No bombs were ever found.

As each threat was uncovered, the university responded by evacuating students and bringing in bomb squads to search the buildings. These searches would take hours, causing students to miss out on studying, exams, and classes. To the aggravation of the students, these evacuations could take place at any hour.

“It was unnerving,” said Benditt. “There was never any secure place to go to. It was hard to do anything you typically do, even going to classes. You just didn’t know if that class would be disrupted.”

To increase safety, students and staff members are now required to have their bags searched and to show their ID before allowed entrance to any campus building. There were long lines to get into any building; some waits were as long as half an hour. This delay further frustrated students because it made it even harder to get to classes on time – if they weren’t cancelled.

As other Pitt students became more uneasy and frustrated, some have even mentioned moving off campus or returning home.

The threats cost the school more than $300,000 in direct expenses. These expenses include overtime for police and many other staff, special equipment to detect explosives and bomb squads.

While Busby is the only person so far to be charged for having a connection with the bomb threats, federal authorities are still investigating (Merionite, 2012).

Title: Pennsylvania Community College Closes After Nerve Agent Threat
September 26, 2012
Bio Prep Watch

A Pennsylvania community college recently shut down after an anonymous caller threatened the campus with a chemical attack using a nerve agent.

Westmoreland County Community College, located in Youngwood, Pennsylvania, closed its main campus and eight satellite locations after a caller threatened to attack the school if his demands for money were not met, according WPXI.

“There was a threat to our campus and we are currently investigating,” school officials announced on Twitter, WPXI reports. “All campuses remain closed for the day.”

The caller asked for $1,600 and said he would release an “explosive chemical nerve agent” that would reach a four mile radius. No injuries or further incidents related to the threat have been reported.

“I went to my class. All the lights were off all the doors were closed,” a WCCC student said, WPXI reports. “I don’t know what goes through a person’s mind that makes them want to do this stuff.”

Pennsylvania State Trooper Steve Limani, a spokesman for the Greensburg barracks, confirmed that police are investigating the situation but said all information is being handled by school officials.

WCCC has not released further details about the incident but said they expected classes to resume the following day (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).