Atlanta's Spelman College, Georgia HBCUs targeted by bomb threats

Spelman College in Atlanta is now one of the latest historically Black schools to receive a bomb threat this week.

Officials have confirmed with FOX 5 that the university received a bomb threat around 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Atlanta police worked with Spelman Public Safety to conduct a sweep of campus buildings and found no explosive devices. 

Also in Georgia Tuesday morning, Fort Valley State University put its campus on lockdown after receiving notice of a bomb threat. Operations have been suspended for the day and residential students have been asked to remain in their dorms.

The threats came after at least a half-dozen historically Black universities in five states and the District of Columbia responded to similar threats Monday, with many of them locking down their campuses for a time.


"Reports of nation-wide bomb threats against several HBCU campuses this week are appalling and raise serious concerns about racially targeted hate-based violence in our communities," Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. said. "We have contacted local and federal officials to request reinforcements of campus security and request that a federal investigation of these threats be undertaken immediately."

Both the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating, the agencies said in separate statements.

Monday, Albany State University warned students and faculty on social media that "a bomb threat has been issued to Albany State University’s academic buildings."

School officials at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told students to stay in their dormitories Monday morning. After a search for any suspicious devices, the university gave an all-clear later in the day. Normal campus operations were expected to resume Tuesday, school officials said.

At Bowie State University in Maryland, school officials told everyone on campus to shelter in place until more information was available. Explosives-detecting dogs and bomb technicians were helping campus police to sweep buildings, the state fire marshal’s office said in a statement. The campus reopened later Monday after a search by local, state and federal law officers found no explosive devices, school officials said.

Howard University was also the subject of a bomb threat before dawn Monday, but later gave an all-clear to students and staff, radio station WTOP reported.

In Florida, Daytona Beach police said in a tweet that they gave the all-clear at the Bethune-Cookman campus after the school received a bomb threat. But classes were canceled and police said they were going to stay on campus for the rest of the day.

At Delaware State University, a bomb threat to that campus was made early Monday morning, and police completed a search of the campus by early afternoon and no explosives were found, university spokesperson Carlos Holmes said in an email.

"We are safe, for which I am incredibly thankful, but the attempt to disrupt targeted our community because of who we serve and the mission we fulfill," Delaware State President Tony Allen said in a letter to the campus community. "The impetus for such a threat cannot be ascribed to anything other than the most primitive form of racism, a form which is neither new nor unique in this country."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the threats "are certainly disturbing and the White House is in touch with the interagency partners, including federal law enforcement leadership on this."

"We’re relieved to hear that Howard and Bethune-Cookman universities have been given the all-clear and will continue to monitor these reports," Psaki said, adding that President Joe Biden is aware of the threats.

Monday’s bomb scares came one day before the start of Black History Month and less than a month after a series of bomb threats were made to multiple historically Black universities on Jan. 4.

Officials in Florida believe a neo-Nazi group that's targeting African-Americans is behind the threats. 

"We are deeply disturbed by a second round of bomb threats at HBCU campuses within a month," leaders of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus said in a statement Monday.

"Learning is one of the most noble and most human pursuits, and schools are sacred places that should always be free from terror," it said. "Solving these crimes and bringing those responsible to justice should be a top priority for federal law enforcement."

The statement was issued by Democratic U.S. Rep. Alma Adams of North Carolina and Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill of Arkansas, who are co-chairs of the caucus.

Georgia Congresswoman Lucy McBath issued the following statement regarding the threats:

"As we celebrate the first day of Black History Month, there are again those with hate in their heart who seek to sow hatred and division. Students across the country are at these HBCUs to work hard and create opportunities for themselves. As a proud HBCU graduate, my thoughts are with all those dealing with these threats of violence. No student should ever have to live or learn in fear."

Anyone seeking help in coping with the mental or emotional effects of the bomb threats can contact that the National Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.