Student Center, Memorial Union evacuated after bomb threat

Students expressed disappointment with MU Alert after the evacuation Tuesday night.
A Missouri State trooper stands outside the MU Student Center blocking entrance to Rollins Street on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Columbia, Mo.

UPDATE: At about 7:01 p.m. on April 22, MUPD received a report from a worker in the Student Center that a male had called in a threat for a bomb for the coffee shop, according to an MUPD news release.

A bomb threat called in to the MU Student Center resulted in the evacuation of the Student Center and Memorial Union and search by MUPD late Tuesday night.

The call was made directly to a worker at the coffee shop in the Student Center, and the threat was passed on directly to MUPD, who responded immediately, MU spokesman Christian Basi said. MUPD is currently investigating the threat, MUPD spokesman Brian Weimer said.

“(The call) wasn’t generalized to campus, if that makes sense — it wasn’t like ‘oh, I have a bomb threat for MU’s campus,’” Basi said. “They said 'student union.' We have two student union buildings on campus. As a precaution, they evacuated both buildings that are considered student unions.”

The Student Center was cleared and re-opened around 9:26 p.m. Memorial Union was cleared around 9:51 p.m., according to MU Alert. The Student Center opened for regular hours while students were allowed to grab their belongings from Memorial Union before it closed for the evening.

The last bomb threat for MU was "many, many years ago," Basi said.

“All clear. Memorial Union has been cleared but will remain closed until 4/22 when it will reopen at normal time,” according to the MU Alert Twitter.

MU Alert tweeted that at around 7:26 p.m. the Student Center was being evacuated and also that Memorial Union was being evacuated around 7:50 p.m., but “only as a precaution.” The MU Alert website also said the campus was operating under elevated conditions while the buildings were searched.

“Student Center is being evacuated due to bomb threat. Memorial Union is being evacuated out of caution. No bomb threat in Memorial Union,” according to the MU Alert Twitter.

The account also tweeted out that there were reports of Ellis Library being evacuated, which turned out to be false.

“We are seeing reports that Ellis Library is being evacuated but there are NO confirmations at this time,” according to the MU Alert Twitter.

Students in the buildings were told to evacuate via a beacon system, Basi said.

“Those beacons were set off, but just for those buildings,” he said. “We have the capability to set them off building by building so we did that to help evacuate.”

Some centers in the basement of the Student Center were not alerted.

Though the Columbia Police Department was not called in, Missouri State Highway Patrol helped MUPD with the situation. K-9 units from the Missouri Capitol Police were called in to assist with the bomb search.

“They were the closest agency that had a K-9 unit that could help us in this particular situation,” Basi said.

Some students expressed anger on social media platforms that a text or email was not sent out over MU Alert. This is not the first time students have been dissatisfied over social media with MU Alert, with several other situations occurring this week.

“We have a situation where we have a localized threat,” Basi said. “It is a situation where we know where the location of the threat is. We have made sure everyone within the vicinity of that threat is safe. So then we’re posting information to make sure the campus is aware that this is going on but the police, as you know, formed a perimeter and would not let anyone in that area.”

Text messages would have been unnecessary, Basi said.

“They (MUPD) did not feel that it was necessary, in this situation, to send a text message to thousands of individuals that would have no reason to be on campus or here in the neighborhood,” he said. “They were making a decision about the circumstance and felt that they were able to make sure everyone in the vicinity was safe and that was what was most important.”

According to protocol, MU Alert is supposed to send out information regarding active threats on campus via phone calls, text messages or emails.

Tuesday night MU Alert tweeted that “No text was sent because threat was isolated. Bldgs evacuated. MUPD there to provide safety. Because localized & stable, no text.”

MUPD works with building coordinators in the case of a bomb threat to determine the extent of the threat and utilize systems in the building available to evacuate, if necessary, Weimer said.

If anyone has any information, they can call MUPD at 573-882-7201.

An MU Alert was sent out around 10:11 p.m. for CPD investigating shots fired, with alert saying the call was “resolved.”

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