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RUPD investigates 'swatting' incident on College Avenue campus

The Middlesex County Sheriff's Office assisted the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) in a search for explosives on the College Avenue campus. – Photo by Uriel Isaacs

Yesterday at 3:35 a.m., a University-wide alert was sent out asking members of the University community to shelter in place as the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) investigated a bomb threat on campus.

Approximately 2 hours later, another alert was sent stating that the RUPD had determined Rutgers—New Brunswick to be safe.

A third alert, delivered at 7:21 a.m., provided details on how law enforcement's investigation into the purported bomb threat unfolded. The alert explained that at 2:15 a.m., the RUPD Communications Center received a bomb threat for several buildings on the College Avenue campus.

Both the RUPD and the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office responded to the threat by having officers and specialized bomb-sniffing dogs search the campus during overnight hours. Ultimately, no explosive or suspicious devices were found.

The shelter-in-place order for the University community was in place from 3:35 a.m. to 5:42 a.m. and was communicated over the Rutgers Emergency Alert System, which sends mass text and email messages.

"The initial investigation confirmed that the incident was likely the result of a purposeful, non-credible threat known as 'swatting,'" Kenneth Cop, chief of the RUPD, said in the third alert.

The alert said the identity of the individual who called in the threat is unknown, and anyone with information about the incident should contact the RUPD's Detective Bureau.

Swatting refers to individuals falsely reporting emergencies like bomb threats and shootings to get law enforcement, including SWAT teams, to respond. Last week, a high school in Pittsburgh was swatted after a call was made falsely reporting a shooter on its campus.

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