Cars lining up to leave campus during the evacuation. Photo: Michael Finch

UPDATED: Queens College Receives Bomb Threat

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Queens College and York College administrations received bomb threats via email from an unknown sender at approximately 12:48 p.m. on Thursday, February 22, the NYPD said.

Police swept the campus and found no devices, they said.

The CUNY Alert emergency notification system called for an immediate evacuation of the Queens College campus at 2:45 p.m., moving all in-person classes to remote learning for the remainder of the day.

“Feels unreal, really, to get an alert like that, but, as I said, you gotta act calmly and that’s what we did, and then we got outta there as quick as possible,” said Ryan Jaikaran, an Accounting and Economics major.

This threat led to an unusual disruption in what was seemingly another normal day on campus. Students flocked to the nearest exit for over half an hour, with concern and confusion being the predominant emotions amongst the crowd.

There were no arrests and the investigation remains ongoing, NYPD said.

The Knight News inquired with the college about the source of the threat, specifically about a screenshot of an email chain from Proton Mail, an encrypted emailing service, that has been circulating amongst the student body as the threat.

The college did not comment on this.

The Knight News also looked to confirm if the college was investigating the matter, and if so, what parties would be involved and if there was a timeline. The college did not comment on this.

The following is the statement The Knight News received from the college:

“A credible threat was received by Queens College on Thursday, February 22. Out of an abundance of caution, the campus community was advised to pivot, where possible, and attend classes remotely for the remainder of the day. The NYPD left campus after investigating the matter. All classes and business services returned to a regular schedule the following day. We thank the college community for their cooperation. York College also received what they deemed to be a credible threat and acted in an appropriately similar way.”

In addition to the CUNY Alert notification, Public Safety officers went to classrooms informing students and faculty that they needed to leave.

“I was in King Hall,” said Robin Gaerlan, a junior English Secondary Education major. “They knocked and just said, ‘Everyone has to evacuate.’ They didn’t say anything, like what’s going on.”

Keona Morris, a junior Computer Science major, had a similar experience at the Student Union building.

“Security just walked in and told us we had to go. People were just calmly packing their bags,” she said. “I think if they told us what was going on, people would have panicked and ran over each other.”

Confusion arose in The Summit Apartments, Queens College’s on-campus dorms, as the threat left many residents unsure if it was safe to remain in the building. At 3:20 p.m., students received an email from the Housing Office with clarification.

“Please be aware that this threat did not occur at The Summit Apartments, and at this time, The Summit is not expected to evacuate. Instead, we will be implementing a shelter-in-place protocol,” the email from the Housing Office said. “Law Enforcement and Public Safety personnel will be conducting thorough checks, and you may see them walking around on campus and within The Summit.”

Students were still allowed to enter and exit the building freely during the shelter-in-place protocol. “Summit operations essentially ran as normal,” Assistant Director of Residence Life Omari Miller said.

Not all students felt a need for alarm, however. “I just thought it was pretty normal, honestly. Stuff like this happens, and then we don’t know if it’s fake or real, but they want everyone off campus,” Gaerlan said. Sophomore Biology student Camila Rodriguez felt similarly, saying, “I wasn’t that scared until I saw people actually leaving. That’s what it was. It’s the herd mentality.”

“Again, I wish to thank everyone for their cooperative response in light of a credible threat and to remind everyone that we regard the well-being of all who work and study at Queens College to be of paramount importance,” said President Frank Wu in a campus-wide email the following day.


William Kuzma contributed reporting to this article.

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