The University of Rhode Island Police Department responded to two bomb threats in Eddy Hall within a week of each other. Residents in Eddy hall, along with the rest of the campus, were not notified of these threats.
On Oct. 11 and Oct. 18, there were two notes, one handwritten and one typed, left in an elevator which stated that a bomb was going to go off at midnight. URI Police Sgt. Erica Vieira and K-9 officer Figaro, URI’s bomb dog, were dispatched to the hall to search and secure the area.
“[The notes] were very suspicious in nature,” said Maj. Michael Jagoda. He said that it was a resident who had found the note and contacted the police.
While residents in the public areas of the building were made aware, and some may have seen Stg. Vieira and Figaro, the majority of the building residents were not notified because of police procedures.
“Right now, only some of the residents who we have contact with were told,” Jagoda said. “Of course, we have a chain of command notification where our HRL staff and student affairs has been notified of this.”
When contacted for comment, Eddy Hall Director Mary Lee Paola “had no information” about either threat.
According to Jagoda, there are many procedures in place when it comes to a situation like this. Residence halls have essentially three areas: private and semi-private, where only a few people have access to, and then public areas which are the police’s main point of concern.
“We really search those areas very thoroughly,” Jagoda said. “We have a very mechanical approach of searching those areas. We also alert residents in that area and then we have an omnipresence in that area to help deter future crimes.”
Brady Gunson, a sophomore living in Eddy said he had “no clue” that either bomb threat had been made.
“That’s scary,” Gunson said after hearing the details surrounding the incident. “There should have been a building meeting to say that these types of things have been taken seriously and to keep an eye out for it.”
In the first few weeks of the semester, Gunson said that the Eddy Resident Advisors held a hall meeting to get to know the RAs and building staff. Gunson said that this kind of a meeting would have been a good way to notify the residents about the threats.
Had there been an immediate threat found, there would have been another procedure they would have followed.
“We look at the entire threat assessment of that incident and make a determination if we need to evacuate, if we need to just secure the perimeter or alert community members,” Jagoda said.
Emma McDonald, a senior who lives in Eddy, appreciates how the police handled the situation.
“I think that the actions taken by the URI police and Eddy Hall staff was appropriate because no immediate threat was found,” she said. “I think that telling people when no threat was found could instill panic and or lead to more people making threats like this.”
The investigation is still open. Police are looking at all different types of physical evidence, getting statements from residents, people who found the note, and those who may have information for them. They are also looking at video from around campus and have seized the notes, and are processing them as critical evidence.
“It’s a criminal act,” Jagoda said. “It’s a violation of state statute to cause annoyance or alert. It’s more than just a disorderly conduct [or] breach of peace.” He added that they take these threats very seriously and are working hard to keep community members safe.
“It’s not a very laughable or joking matter,” he said. “We are hopeful that we will find the people responsible for this.”
The investigation is active and the police urge students to come to them with any information or if they see anything suspicious. Students can do that by calling 401-874-2121.