UAPD called after threat to Tutwiler

William Evans

The University of Alabama Police Department responded to a terrorist threat on Tuesday, Feb. 7, that lasted from 4:38 to 5:30 p.m., according to a UAPD police report.

“UA staff received an alarming phone call regarding Tutwiler on Tuesday afternoon,” said Cathy Andreen, director of media relations, in an emailed statement. “Following normal procedures, UAPD responded, assessed the situation and determined that there was no reason for further action.”

Andreen did not say what staff received the phone call or what constitutes normal procedures for responding to a terrorist threat but did say in a separate emailed statement that the term “terrorist threat” applies to a variety of situations that may be alarming.

According to the 2009 Alabama Code Section 13A, an act is recognized as a terrorist threat when a person intentionally or recklessly terrorizes another person, disrupts school activities or causes a “serious public inconvenience” such as causing the evacuation of a building, place of assembly or facility of public transportation.

Mary Riley Walton, a Tutwiler resident, said her resident advisor told the girls on her hall to leave the building, but the front desk told them there was nothing to worry about.

“Even if it was a prank, what if it wasn’t?” Walton said. “We would all have not gotten out in time. As soon as the threat was made we should be notified just in case.”

Lindsay Powell, also a Tutwiler resident, said she thought UA should notify students depending on the severity of the threat.

“If it’s a non-credible threat and they don’t want to evacuate, then I don’t think people should know because it would cause people to jump to conclusions and it may cause harm to them,” Powell said. “If it is a credible threat, then I definitely think people should be informed so that they can find a safe place to be.”

Other students agreed that the University should send notification of any possible campus.

“I’m kind of offended to know that the University doesn’t think that I am in the need to know about things like that,” said Chelsea Pickett, a junior majoring in public relations. “I’d like to know the justification of why they felt I didn’t need to be informed. Am I not mature enough to handle that kind of information? I feel like a child whose parents are trying to hide stuff from me.”

Kirsten MacKay, a senior majoring in English, said she wished she were more surprised that UA kept the threat from students.

“I hope that UA keeping this under wraps is an indication of the weakness of the threat, and not of their constant appearance of ineptitude and lack of transparency,” she said.