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Pitt threats persist; police make no arrests

| Friday, April 13, 2012

Police made no arrests on Thursday, a day after authorities said they had "potential suspects" in scores of threats against University of Pittsburgh buildings, and bomb threats continued on the campus and nearby spots for an 11th straight day.

Authorities evacuated 12 buildings on the Oakland campus yesterday, but officials declined to release new information on the investigation. Meanwhile, bomb threats have hit four other area campuses in recent days, including one yesterday at the nearby Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children. Police have not said if they believe there is any connection between all of the threats.

Kaylee Willis, 20, a Pitt sophomore neuroscience major from Chicago, said the number of threats is frightening.

"This has gone way past a joke," Willis said.

Police have responded to threats that forced evacuation of Pitt buildings more than 60 times since Feb. 13. No explosives have been found.

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said investigators had identified "potential suspects" by using information given to police by Pitt students and community members. Spokeswoman Margaret Philbin said the U.S. Attorney's Office would give no further comment.

Investigators also refused to answer questions about the arrest on Wednesday of a New York man suspected of threatening Pitt professors.

Authorities detained Mark Lee Krangle, 65, of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., at Pittsburgh International Airport and charged him with harassment and making terroristic threats. Police said he sent emails April 3, Friday and Monday to four current and retired Pitt professors.

The emails said he was planning to come to Pittsburgh "to get his story covered by the local and national press" and that "he believes the bomb threats are being orchestrated to further this cause." According to a criminal complaint, Krangle also sent the professors PDF copies of his book, "Revolution or Extinction."

Krangle was awaiting arraignment last night, and an employee in the arraignment court office said they "expected him at some point." One of the targeted professors said police told him that they don't believe Krangle made the bomb threats.

Pitt police Chief Tim Delaney did not return numerous phone calls and emails, and calls to the Pittsburgh FBI office were not returned.

The Community College of Allegheny County campuses put new security measures in place because a bomb threat came in Wednesday night through a news outlet, said college spokeswoman Elizabeth Johnston.

The university locked down every campus and brought in bomb-sniffing dogs to search every building, Johnston said. Anyone entering a building is required to show photo identification and is subjected to a bag search, she said.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes federal, state and local agencies and is investigating the Pitt bomb threats, also is investigating the CCAC threat, Johnston said.

Threats also have targeted Point Park University and California University of Pennsylvania. Cal U police Chief Bob Downey said he is sharing information with the task force regarding two threats received there in the past 10 days.

"If we catch whoever did this, I'm going after them for restitution. I don't think they realize how many lives they are disrupting," Downey said.

Larry Likar, who spent 23 years as an FBI agent and is now chair of the Department of Justice, Law and Security at La Roche College, said the threats at the other campuses are most likely the work of copycats.

"Someone who has an ideation or daydreams about this and then sees it carried out and sees someone getting away with it and getting a reaction from it with publicity and evacuations will decide to do it, too," Likar said.

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