With the entire region jittery after the Boston Marathon bombings, MIT investigated reports of six suspicious packages found on or near the campus. None of the packages were found to be dangerous, MIT officials said.
The university notified members of the MIT community about the packages via text messages as they were reported.
"In each case, the package was not anything threatening, and alerts giving the all-clear were issued promptly," MIT spokesman Nate Nickerson said.
The first three packages were found in the days immediately following the April 15 bombings. In an April 16 e-mail, college Vice President Kirk Kolenbrander asked members of the MIT community to “take care not to leave any backpacks or other personal property unattended in public areas: such items may be considered suspicious.”
He also wrote, “if you see anything that looks suspicious to you, please call the MIT Police immediately.”
Members of the public responded quickly to the call to report packages:
-- MIT sent an alert at 1:06 p.m. on April 16 of a suspicious package in the area of building E51. Members of the community were asked to avoid the area, which was cleared minutes later, at 1:19 p.m.
-- A text alert was sent at 2:34 p.m. on April 18, indicating that building E38 was being evacuated “due to the report of a suspicious package.” MIT police, Cambridge fire officials, and Cambridge police investigated the package, which was later “deemed safe.”
- MIT reported on the afternoon of April 19 that a suspicious package had been found in the area of 500 Memorial Drive. “Police are setting up a perimeter,” the alert said. “Please stay away from the area.” Less than 20 minutes later, a second alert indicated that the package “presents no danger to the community.”
More recently, there were three more reports of suspicious packages since early last week, and all were found to be non-threatening. According to text messages from the MIT alert system, one was found on April 29 in the area of Kendall Square near the Chipotle restaurant.
And on May 1, two suspicious packages were found. The first was in building 52; the initial alert was sent at 11:47 a.m., and minutes later, the situation was deemed safe.
An hour later, at 1:06 p.m., MIT community members received an alert saying that a suspicious package was reported on the second floor of stairwell 1 in Building 54. At 1:41 p.m., MIT sent a message saying that “authorities have determined the suspicious package in building 54 is no threat to the MIT Community.”
An MIT police officer, Sean Collier, was allegedly killed by the Marathon bombing suspects on the night of April 18.
In late February, an MIT official said the school should have notified staff, students, and faculty more quickly about a hoax call that a gunman was on campus. The call had made a threatening, but unfounded, message about a gunman on campus, saying that the university's president was the target and the alleged gunman was retaliating against people involved in the death of internet activist Aaron Swartz.
Katherine Landergan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.
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