Cal State L.A. was the target of a bomb threat on Thursday, prompting school administrators to evacuate the campus and cancel classes. While the bomb threat fortunately proved to be false, many students and faculty members have expressed criticism toward the school’s handling of the incident.
The bomb threat was reportedly made via a 911 call to the El Monte Police Department shortly before 11 am. The unidentified caller indicated that a bomb was set to explode on campus in two hours. The information was quickly passed along to both Cal State L.A. officials and the Los Angeles Police Department.
As the LAPD Bomb Squad and campus police worked together to investigate the bomb threat, school administrators decided to move forward with evacuation procedures.
According to Jon Beaupre, a Cal State L.A. journalism professor, the school’s fire alarm sounded at 12:15 pm. As he and his students filed out of the building, they were informed that a bomb threat had prompted the evacuation.
“That led to a mad dash, grabbing bags to get people out of here,” Beaupre told The Associated Press.
Speaking to the news organization by telephone from his car, he described a chaotic scene of vehicles caught in heavy traffic as they attempted to exit the area.
“Apparently we can get people out of the buildings, but getting traffic away from campus is not easy,” Beaupre explained as a sheriff’s helicopter circled above the crowd.
As a result of the bomb threat, thousands of students and faculty members were evacuated from dorms and classrooms. According to the Los Angeles Times, many complained about the lack of information and direction provided by campus officials.
Nicolle Fedor, a senior at Cal State L.A., indicated that many students — unaware that a bomb threat was the cause of evacuation — waited as long as 15 minutes outside the building for further direction once the fire alarm went off. Like Jon Beaupre, Fedor described traffic issues that prevented evacuees from departing the area quickly.
“If there was really a bomb, everybody on campus would have been gone in an hour,” she explained while citing an insufficient number of officers on hand to direct the crowd.
Another student, Jonny Barrios, echoed the sentiment. “I’m assuming it’s a hoax,” he explained during the ordeal, “but by the way they’re taking it — especially after Boston — they should have better communication of telling students what’s going on instead of ‘Get out, get out, get out!’ ”
According to a Cal State L.A. faculty member, who spoke on the grounds of anonymity, “shock and confusion” dominated the scene. “We all left feeling a little in the dark,” he explained. “No one was hurt, but you do see this as a kind of trial run when you hope that there would be someone with a yellow jack saying ‘You need to go home.’ We were hungry for some official notification, and it wasn’t forthcoming.”
After thoroughly investigating the Cal State L.A. campus, authorities deemed the bomb threat to be a hoax. The university announced late Thursday evening that classes would resume as normal on Friday.
[Top image via Wikipedia]