Casey Calls on Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to Assist in Pittsburgh Bomb Threat Investigation

More than 90 Bomb Threats Have Been Received Since February, Creating Concern and Disruption for Area Students, Families, Staff and Residents

Bomb-Sniffing Dogs and Other Resources Assist Local and Federal Efforts as Graduation Approaches

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, urging them to provide all appropriate assistance to law enforcement to help address the recent bomb threats in Pittsburgh.

Currently, the Department of Justice’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is working with local, state and federal officials to investigate the threats. Other resources, including bomb-sniffing dogs, have proved vital to the investigation but can be very expensive for local communities.

“We must bring all available resources to bear to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, staff and community,” said Senator Casey. “It is critical that law enforcement identify the perpetrator to restore peace of mind and normal operations to these campuses as soon as possible.  Further assistance from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security could be crucial to resolving this crisis.”

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. Attorney General and Madam Secretary:

I write today regarding the safety and well-being of my constituents at the University of Pittsburgh and the surrounding community, whose lives have been repeatedly disrupted by a series of bomb threats beginning in mid-February.  As you know, the Joint Terrorism Task Force is working with local, state and federal partners to identify the individual(s) behind the threats, and I am thankful for the assistance provided by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.  Unfortunately, it appears that the situation has only escalated in recent weeks with more threats and no clear suspects publicly identified.  To help bring a swift end to this situation and restore peace to the University of Pittsburgh community, I urge you to direct any and all available resources to assist in this investigation.

Since February 13, the University of Pittsburgh has received more than 90 bomb threats, causing major disruptions to students, professors, and the community surrounding the campus.  Working tirelessly to keep everyone safe, University of Pittsburgh Police have regularly evacuated buildings when threats are received, while increasing foot patrols and expanding surveillance. Threats have been found written on bathroom walls and also emailed to Pittsburgh news outlets using sophisticated technology that makes it difficult for authorities to trace the emails to their original sender.  In recent weeks, additional bomb threats have been made at the Community College of Allegheny County, Point Park University and California University of Pennsylvania in Washington County.

My office has received numerous calls from concerned parents worried about important end of semester activities at the University of Pittsburgh, including the upcoming graduation ceremony.  I believe both the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have an important role to play in an investigation of this magnitude, and I respectfully ask that your agencies supply any available resources that could help ensure the safety of the University of Pittsburgh community and alleviate parents’ fears.  I understand that bomb-sniffing canines, and associated personnel, are in high demand but are costly for the local law enforcement.  To ensure that officials have access to these potentially life-saving animals, I urge you to provide any available funding to supply the canines necessary for this unique situation.

As I am sure you can appreciate the urgency of this matter, I thank you for your immediate attention to this request.  I am confident that all those involved in this investigation, including the city, the university, the U.S. Attorney, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are one hundred percent dedicated to identifying the culprit(s) behind these threats.   Please provide whatever assistance is available to ensure they have the maximum resources possible.