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University Police investigates bomb threat to USF Hillel

The email encouraged the community to notify police or call 911 to report suspicious activity. ORACLE PHOTO/JUSTIN SEECHARAN

Editor’s note: An update from UP was sent Wednesday evening stating that there was never a legitimate threat to the USF community. After an investigation Wednesday afternoon, UP determined it was a misunderstanding between two people who were communicating on social media, and no crimes were committed. The investigation is still ongoing.

University Police (UP) is investigating a bomb threat related to the USF Hillel building on the Tampa campus, according to UP.

UP was notified of the threat at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday. An officer on patrol near the building was approached by a Hillel affiliate who reported a “concerning” statement made on social media, the universitywide email read. 

The USF Hillel building is the Morris & Bertha Escoll Center for campus Jewish life, according to their website.

Once notified, UP evacuated the building and a K-9 unit performed a sweep of the facility and found “nothing of concern,” according to the email.

All occupants were allowed to return to the building and normal activities were resumed.

Due to the “recent events in the Middle East,” the email mentioned that there has been and will continue to be an increased visible police presence on campus. 

UP is working with campus partners and local law enforcement to maintain a safe environment for the USF community, according to the email.

The email encourages students, faculty and staff to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings. UP asked individuals with information to call 813-974-2628 in the email.

A second email from President Rhea Law and Board of Trustees Chairman Will Weatherford went out later Wednesday afternoon. Law and Weatherford called the events in the Middle East “disturbing and frightening.”

“USF stands with those locally, across the country and around the world in condemning the Hamas attacks in Israel,” the email read.

Law and Weatherford reminded the USF community that all gatherings should “remain peaceful” and “not disrupt university operations.”

The Student Success department and UP are working together to offer policy guidance to student organizations and their advisors who are organizing events, according to the email. 

“The safety and well-being of all members of the university community is our highest priority,” the email read. “As we process what is occurring around the world, let’s remember that USF is a place where we treat each other with empathy and respect.”