UT Austin bomb threat causes students to flee campus

Associated Press
University of Texas students evacuate campus after the university received a bomb threat Friday morning, Sept. 14, 2012 in Austin, Texas. The university received a call about 8:35 a.m. local time from a man claiming to be with al-Qaida who said he had placed bombs all over the 50,000-student Austin campus, according to University of Texas spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon.

Caroline Brewton
City desk editor

University of Texas Austin junior Salimah Jasani was on her way to a 10 a.m. class when she received an emergency text message from the university, but she ignored it – it wasn’t until she saw a missed call from her roommate that she began to suspect something was happening.

“She was just like, ‘Come home now,’” Jasani said. At the time, Jasani said she wasn’t aware that a bomb threat hung over the Austin campus.

“I actually heard people saying it was a tornado at first,” Jasani said.

The text, which arrived at 9:50 a.m., warned students of threats on campus and instructed them to “get as far away from the buildings as possible,” promising more information to come.

Jasani headed home, where she said her roommates told her the emergency was a bomb threat. The next text message came at 10:38.

It read: “Continue to stay outside buildings, they are being check and cleared.” It also promised more information in an upcoming update.

Jasani never made it to her class. All classes for the day have been cancelled.

Jasani and other UT students received another text at 11:46 a.m. which said the buildings had been cleared and may be re-enetered at noon. All other, non-class activities will resume at 5 p.m. tonight.

Baylor alumnae Amy Heard, a graduate student at University of Texas Law School, was already on campus. Heard was sitting in her legal writing and research class when she first got the message. People began to talk, she said, and at first, it struck her as rudeness. Then she learned that students had been instructed to evacuate.

“It really scared me,” Heard said. “I was going to leave my stuff. I walked out as fast as I could. They kept telling us to go father and farther away.”

Heard said she took her things from class, but left several items in her locker and her car in a campus parking lot.

The university received a threatening phone call at 8:35 a.m. from a man claiming links to al-Qaida. University of Texas spokesperson Rhonda Weldom told the Associated Press the man claimed to have placed bombs all over the Austin campus which would go off in 90 minutes. The campus was evacuated as a precaution, Weldon said.

Jasani said she is grateful to the university police department.

“I’m glad they responded the way they did,” she said.

Heard says she plans to return to campus to get her car, but says she’ll need a ride due to the rain. She feels safe going back, she said, but doesn’t plan to linger.

“I’ll just go get my car and pick up my books, but I probably won’t go on campus the rest of the weekend.”