2012 University of Pittsburgh bomb threats

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The Cathedral of Learning has been the subject of a multitude of bomb threats

The University of Pittsburgh Bomb Threats were a series of ongoing bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh. The first threat was written on a bathroom stall in the Chevron Science Center and was observed on February 13, 2012. It was not until approximately a month later, however, that threats occurred with increasing frequency.[1] The number of bomb threats totaled approximately 160 as of April 21, 2012, after which police reported no additional related threats.


Several threats were written on bathroom stalls in the Cathedral of Learning and Chevron Science Center.[2] Several more are known to have originated via email.[3] Some of the emails are believed to have been routed through intermediate servers using Mixmaster, a type of anonymous remailer that makes the origin of an email almost impossible to determine.[3] The threats have targeted dozens of buildings at the University of Pittsburgh in addition to buildings at a number of nearby educational institutions: Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, Point Park University, California University of Pennsylvania, and Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC).[4]


The FBI and Secret Service had identified at least one person of interest related to the case,[5] and local police collaborated with the Department of Justice and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.[6] On April 11, police arrested Mark Lee Krangle, a Pitt alumnus and former teaching fellow who wrote a harassing email to Pitt professors that advised international terrorism was behind the bomb threats, as he disembarked at Pittsburgh International Airport.[7] On the same day, the Pittsburgh US Attorney's Office claimed that "significant progress" had been made in the investigation of the bomb threats.[4][8] On April 11, a transgender couple living near Johnstown, Pennsylvania were subpoenaed in relation to the bomb threats. One member of the couple, Seamus Johnston, was enrolled at Pitt-Johnstown as an honors student majoring in computer science until a dispute regarding his use of a male locker room led to his expulsion in January 2012.[9]


The University of Pittsburgh offered a reward of up to $10,000 on March 30 "for information leading to an arrest and conviction" of those responsible for the threats, which was raised to up to $50,000 on April 2[10] before being withdrawn on April 21.[11] The University has also removed some bathroom stall doors in the Cathedral of learning and ramped up security in the building.[2] Chancellor Mark Nordenberg wrote a letter to the University on April 3 in which he said that "...those responsible for these threats not only lack basic respect for the thousands of people whose lives have been disrupted by them but must possess a heartless streak,"[12] and another on April 6, in which he lamented that "It is true ... that this could have happened anywhere. But sadly, it is happening here at Pitt – on a campus that is widely recognized as safe by all comparative measures and that is known for its sense of community."[13] On April 8, the University announced that it would be tightening security measures, including provisions such as requiring all people entering University buildings to present University IDs, only allowing students to enter residence halls, and disallowing backpacks and packages from being brought into buildings.[14][15] This policy was soon changed to allow backpacks into buildings, and on April 9 the Cathedral of Learning had more than one open entrance (All guarded by security).[16]


On April 10, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette received a note from "The Threateners" demanding that the University of Pittsburgh take down the $50,000 reward they offered for information leading to the culprit or culprits. They offered a 24-hour window without bomb threats, which they upheld. Pitt and the FBI decided to not negotiate with terrorists, ignoring the demand, and the Post-Gazette did not publish a story about the offer. Again on April 20, 2012, The Pitt News, the daily student newspaper, received a similar email from "The Threateners" offering a 24-hour window without threats, which they stuck to, and then demanded that Pitt takes down the $50,000 reward. Some of the email stated,

this all began when you, Nordenberg, put out a $10,000 — then $50,000 — ‘reward’ (bounty) for some young kid who’d pranked the University. Remember? That REALLY angered us! Hey, man! This is America! We don't treat our kids like that! Simply withdraw the 'reward,' and we will end our actions permanently.

They also claimed to have no ties to any persons of interest Pitt has identified. The Pitt News notified the university that it was writing a story about the offer, and the University of Pittsburgh withdrew the $50,000 reward by the morning of April 21, 2012. Since the morning of April 21, there have been no more bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh. The university's final count of bomb threats was 160, targeting 52 buildings that lead to 136 evacuations.[17]

On August 15, 2012, it was reported that Adam Busby of Dublin, Ireland was indicted in connection with the e-mailed threats.[18] As of November 6, 2013 no updates on Adam Busby's involvement have been published. In addition, there have been no indictments whatsoever for the two months of bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh that occurred before the concluding weeks of threats for which Busby has been indicted.


  1. ^ Navratil, Liz (31 March 2012). "Pitt bomb threats frustrate students, faculty". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Navratil, Liz (28 March 2012). "Cathedral of Learning set to reopen at 9 p.m. after bomb threat". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Navratil, Liz (6 April 2012). "Experts say threatening Pitt emails are virtually impossible to trace". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Pitt suffers more threats, other schools targeted". 12 April 2012. Archived from the original on April 13, 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Begos, Kevin (9 April 2012). "University Of Pittsburgh Bomb Threats Leaves Campus On Edge". Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Stanglin, Douglas (10 April 2012). "12 bomb threats in one day rattle nerves at Pitt". USA Today. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Mackey, Robert (10 April 2012). "University of Pittsburgh Police Make Arrest, but Bomb Threats Continue". The New York Times: The Lede (blog). Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Riely, Kaitlynn (11 April 2012). "'Significant progress' seen in Pitt bomb-threat probe". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Fuoco, Michael (14 April 2012). "Subpoena issued in Pitt bomb threat case". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Gurman, Sadie (2 April 2012). "Pitt building reopens after bomb threat". Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "Reward Offered In Pitt Bomb Threat Case Withdrawn". 21 April 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  12. ^ Nordenberg, Mark. "Chancellor Issues Update About Campus Bomb Threats". Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  13. ^ Nordenberg, Mark. "Continuing Campus Disruptions". Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  14. ^ Navratil, Liz (9 April 2012). "Building security tightened at Pitt". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  15. ^ "Pitt to tighten security, ban backpacks in bomb-threatened buildings". 8 April 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-04-10. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  16. ^ Niederberger, Mary (9 April 2012). "Lines, confusion at Pitt buildings with new security restrictions". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  17. ^ Nordenberg, Mark A. (2012-08-15). "Chancellor's Remarks at the Department of Justice Press Conference" (Press release). University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  18. ^ "Man from Ireland charged in Pitt bomb threat case". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. August 15, 2012. 

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Coordinates: 40°26′45″N 79°57′28″W / 40.4457°N 79.9578°W / 40.4457; -79.9578