Phone threat delays speech

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — A bomb threat at the University of Michigan-Dearborn nearly canceled an event on campus Jan. 26.

The threat came at 12:42 p.m. after a man called campus police and said a device was set to explode in the Social Sciences Building.

Campus Police Lt. Kenneth Paris would not comment on the suspect due to the continuing investigation, saying only that the caller was a male.

“He made some comments about his credits on campus,” he said, “and then stated again a bomb would go off at 1:30.”

Some 200 people were evacuated from three smaller lecture halls, as well as the main larger lecture hall. The process took place quickly and without incident, Paris said.

“It was very, very orderly,” he said. “Within a period of 15 to 20 minutes, we had those lecture halls evacuated, and we also searched those lecture halls.

“An announcement was made to all the occupants of those rooms.”

After moving everyone outside the building, campus police searched it and found nothing. Afterward, everyone was allowed to return inside.

“We did not receive any other credible information,” Paris said, “nor were any other phone calls recieved on campus about the incident.

“We did not perceive it as a credible threat. That’s why people were allowed back in the building.”

The threat came on a day when author and outspoken critic of Israeli foreign policy Norman Finkelstein hosted an event called “Freedom Denied: Palestine Under Siege.”

He was banned from entering Israel for 10 years in 2008 after visiting Lebanon and having talks with Hezbollah.

University spokesman Ken Kettenbeil said the buidling was open just for the purpose of the speech.

“The hall was booked just for the special engagement,” he said.