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FBI, local law enforcement continue search

Cody Cousino / Lantern photographer

Update (5:05 p.m.): Police have completed their search of McPherson and Smith labs and have found no explosives, according to an Ohio State press release.

Those buildings, which were two of four mentioned in a bomb threat made to the FBI this morning, opened again at 5 p.m. The two other buildings will open later this evening: Scott Lab is expected to open at 6 p.m., and William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library is set to open at 9 p.m.

Belongings left in the library will be available at the west security desk during regular hours once the building reopens, according to the release. Belongings left in the other buildings will be available Wednesday at Blankenship Hall.

“The university puts the highest priority on the safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Vernon Baisden, assistant vice president and director of public safety, in the statement. “Throughout the day our public safety forces have meticulously checked the affected buildings to insure that our students continue to have a safe learning environment.”

Update (2:55 p.m.): Police are still searching the buildings but began escorting students back into McPherson Lab at 2:30 p.m. to recover belongings left in the building when it was evacuated.

“A lot of people thought it was a fire drill this morning and left their stuff inside,” an OSU Police dispatcher said.

The university registrar sent an e-mail to students who had class in McPherson, notifying them that they should go to the southeast double doors at the building by 3:30 p.m. After that, all belongings will be taken to Blankenship Hall on West Campus, where students can collect their belongings Wednesday.

Public Safety officials at OSU said nothing had turned up in the investigation, and officers are still restricting access to most roads in central campus.

Keep reading The Lantern for more updates.

 

An anonymous threat sent to the FBI has forced Ohio State to close four buildings on main campus until at least 5 p.m., while federal, state and local law enforcement agencies search for bombs or suspicious packages.

Vernon L. Baisden, assistant vice president and director of Public Safety, said he has not seen a threat of this magnitude in his 10 years at the university.

The four buildings mentioned in the threat to the FBI are the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library, and Scott, Smith and McPherson labs.

The Columbus office of the FBI received the threat and notified Ohio State Police at 8:19 a.m., Baisden said.

OSUPD conducted an initial assessment of the threatened areas and then evacuated the buildings, Baisden said.

About 20 minutes after campus police learned of the threat, OSU officials sent a Buckeye Alert text message to subscribers at about 8:40 a.m. OSU officials said it took at least 10 minutes for the message to reach more than 32,000 subscribers.

Minutes later, university officials sent an e-mail to OSU students and faculty, directing them to more information on the OSU website. Officials also opened the OSU crisis hotline.

“No suspicious packages or devices have been found,” said Paul Denton, chief of OSU Police during a roughly 15-minute media briefing.

Law enforcement agencies will not speculate on the motivation behind the threats, but they are continuing an investigation along with Columbus police and fire departments, the joint terrorism task force, the FBI, the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Classes in the four buildings are canceled until at least 5 p.m. but all other campus activities will resume as normal, officials said.

Neil Avenue north of 12th Avenue, 17th Avenue between Tuttle Park Place, and College Road and 18th Avenue between Neil Avenue and College Road remain closed. Campus buses will continue to run but will not be making stops on the closed areas.

 

Dylan Tussel, Bethany Brakemeyer, Justin Conley and Collin Binkley contributed to this story.

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