OSU Department of Public Safety ‘actively investigating’ alleged explosives threat


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Zeva Rosenbaum, News Contributor

After two Oregon State University alerts that warned community members of an alleged explosives threat within a vehicle on the Corvallis, Ore. campus, there is still no further information about the situation.

The first alert was sent out at 8:30 p.m. on May 2 and cited a call to 911 that allegedly claimed an individual was threatening to detonate explosives in a vehicle. The potential vehicle was described as a red Dodge Charger or a beige 1964 Chevy Malibu within the campus, and community members were asked to report sightings of these vehicles by calling 911.

A second OSU Alert, sent out at 8:40 a.m. on May 3, claimed OSU’s Department of Public Safety was continuing to investigate the threat, and that police and public officers from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Corvallis Police Department and OSU DPS conducted a systematic search of campus overnight. They did not have further information at the time. 

OSU Alerts are OSU’s emergency alert system, which anyone with an ONID login can sign up for to receive alerts via email and/or text.

“DPS is actively investigating this incident and information can change quickly,” said Shanon Anderson, the OSU police chief on the night of May 3. 

Anderson did not provide any specific updates involving the threat.

According to Anderson, DPS is grateful to the campus community for being active in their community’s safety and their alertness to potentially unusual or suspicious vehicles and behavior. She said students can help to protect themselves from threats by being aware of and reporting suspicious or unusual items to 911.

“Not all items are suspicious, some are just unattended, such as bags, packages, and vehicles,” Anderson said. “The department of homeland security uses the acronym HOT to help us understand when an item is typically deemed as suspicious. HOT stands for Hidden, Obviously Suspicious, and not Typical for the location. If a suspicious item is found, do not touch, tamper with it, or move it.  Call 911 and report the item immediately.” 

According to Anderson, if a student is at a residence hall, they should alert the RA or RD after contacting 911 so decisions can be made about securing and clearing the area for first responders to investigate. 

Anderson said students can also protect themselves from these kinds of threats by remaining alert to behaviors occurring around them that may be suspicious or unusual. Depending on the situation, Anderson said the behavior may need to be reported to 911. 

“In my experience, it’s not an easy decision to report another’s suspicious or unusual behavior,” Anderson said. “The fear of seeming judgmental, or that we may be violating privacy, may make us hesitate to report these behaviors. The key is to focus on behavior when identifying and describing suspicious activity. Some activities are innocent, and it’s up to law enforcement to determine whether the behavior warrants investigation.  

Anderson said people should use the ‘Who, What, When, Where, and Why’ format for clarity when reporting suspicious behaviors.  

“Who did you see and did anyone else see it?” Anderson said. “What did you see?  When did you see it?  Where did you see it? Why did it appear suspicious or unusual to you?”

This is an ongoing story and more information will be added as it becomes available.

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