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Cal State L.A. students say they didn't receive bomb threat alerts

April 18, 2013|By Kate Mather, Samantha Schaefer and Matt Stevens

Several students and faculty members at Cal State L.A. said they have yet to receive text or email alerts from the university about a bomb threat -- nearly two hours after officials decided to evacuate campus and cancel classes.

LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore said school administrators, after learning of the threat sometime before noon, made the decision to evacuate the El Sereno campus and cancel classes as a precaution. The caller said a bomb would explode in two hours, Moore said.

The university posted information on its Twitter and Facebook pages announcing the evacuation and closure about 12:45 p.m., though no details were provided. By 1:30 p.m., the university posted a message on its website.

More than 90 minutes after the Twitter message was posted, several students and faculty said they were still waiting for a text or email through the university's emergency notification system, despite a Cal State L.A. tweet sent shortly before 2 p.m. that said the university had "already sent out text messages and campuswide email notifications alerting the campus of the emergency."

Senior Caroline Monroy said she and her sister, also a student at Cal State L.A., are signed up for emergency alerts, but have not received any from the university. Most of their information about the threat has come through Twitter and Facebook, she said.

Jonny Barrios tweeted his frustration.

“I am still waiting to receive either a text message or an email!!! And this happened about 1 hour and 30 mins ago," he wrote on his account, @yankgrana.

“It’s bad," Barrios told The Times. "If someone wasn’t able to check Twitter, they would show up to campus and not know what’s going on. You’re out of the loop.”

“I’m assuming it’s a hoax," he continued, "but by the way they’re taking it -- especially after Boston -- they should have better communication of telling students what’s going on instead of 'Get out, get out, get out!' ”

Jimmy Ruiz, a transfer student at Cal State L.A., said he was on his way back to the dorms when resident assistants told students they had to leave the building. Students stood in the parking lot confused until police and bomb squad members arrived and told them to completely leave campus, he said.

University entrances were blocked off, with officers preventing anyone from coming in, he said.

Ruiz, a dorm resident, said he had no plan for where to go if the university remained closed. He said he had not received notifications from the university about the situation.

“I have no idea what to do, I have no family in L.A.,” he said. “The people I’m with are the ones I’m dorming with. No one lives around here.”

A faculty member who asked not to be identified said there was “shock and confusion” as to what people were supposed to do.

He said alarms went off around noon and students and faculty evacuated assuming it was a drill. He said he did not receive a notification to evacuate campus. When people evacuated, he said, they saw “absolutely no police presence whatsoever.”

The faculty member said that gradually, people began to hear that an evacuation had been ordered, and word spread informally.

“It was more of a casual response,” he said. “People were sitting in cars listening to music because they didn’t want to leave in the jam."

“We all left feeling a little in the dark," he said.

“No one was hurt, but you do see this as a kind of trial run when you hope that there would be someone with a yellow jack saying ‘You need to go home,’ ” he said. “We were hungry for some official notification and it wasn’t forthcoming.”

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