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Bomb threats that prompted the evacuation of four Harvard buildings on Monday were allegedly sent by a student hoping to avoid a final exam, federal prosecutors said Tuesday according to the Harvard Crimson.
Eldo Kim, a Harvard sophomore, allegedly sent emails to the Harvard Police Department, two Harvard officials and the president of the Harvard Crimson around 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 16 with the subject “bombs placed around campus,” according to an affidavit filed in federal court by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The email, allegedly sent anonymously via online service Guerrilla Mail, contained a list of four university buildings and informed recipients that “shrapnel bombs” had been placed in two of them. It urged the recipients to “guess correctly” and to “be quick for they will go off soon,” the Crimson reported.
The emails led to the evacuation of all four buildings and a six-hour investigation that yielded no evidence of explosives. The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Secret Service, the Harvard University Police Department and the Cambridge, Boston and Massachusetts State Police Departments responded to the scene.
An all-clear signal was given around 3 p.m. on Monday. Several final exams scheduled for Monday were either delayed or cancelled.
Authorities determined that Kim accessed Guerrilla Mail via a free online application called TOR, which assigns temporary anonymous IP addresses. The university was able to identify that Kim had used TOR through Harvard’s campus wireless Internet in the hours before the email was sent.
Kim was scheduled to take a final for Government 1368 at 9 a.m. in one of the buildings listed, the Crimson reported. Kim told federal agents that the email was motivated by a desire to avoid his exam, and said he was present in the exam room when the building was evacuated.
Kim is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court on Wednesday for an initial hearing. If he is sentenced, he could face a maximum of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
Monday’s bomb threat is the fourth emergency situation to occur on an Ivy League campus since the summer, following a campus lockdown at Yale in November after reports of a shooter, reports of gunshots in Nassau Hall at Princeton in October and a bomb threat again at Princeton in June. All four situations were later found to be unfounded.
Another bomb threat was reported at Harvard in March, although no explosives were found. Harvard’s campus was also closed briefly in April amidst a two-day manhunt following the explosions at the Boston Marathon.