AUSTIN -- Campus buildings have re-opened at the University of Texas after a bomb threat forced the area to be evacuated. UT authorities say buildings have been checked and cleared.
The university canceled all classes for the rest of Friday. All activities except classes resumed at 5 p.m.
Friday morning everyone was told to get as far away from campus as possible.
UT says a man claiming to be with Al Qaeda called the university at 8:35 a.m. to say bombs would go off in 90 minutes. University President Bill Powers was then notified.
Here's the statement UT released at that time:
At 8:35 a.m. the university received a call from a male with a middle eastern accent claiming to have placed bombs all over campus. He said he was with Al Qaeda and these bombs would go off in 90 minutes. President Powers was notified and it was decided to evacuate all of the buildings out of an abundance of caution.
Powers said at a noon press conference that while there was always a question about the credibility of the threat, they decided the prudent thing to do was to clear the building. The university used text alerts, its website, and social media to announce the evacuations, which Powers says was done in an orderly manner.
"When we send out texts, we reach over 69,000 people who are signed up for our alerts," said the chief of the UT Police Department Robert E. Dahlstrom.
"And then we all start getting text messages, and we check Facebook, and we notice that it says 'don't stand next to the building,' so everybody starts walking. We didn't really know where to go," said Sean, a senior at UT.
The buildings were checked and cleared. "We are extremely confident the campus is safe," Powers said Friday afternoon. "I think our students were safe during the entire incident."
Students have questioned why they were not immediately notified of the threat. Powers stated that because the threat from the phone call was for 90 minutes in the future, officials took time to evaluate it. He adds that if the threat had been that something were happening in five minutes, the university would have taken immediate action to spread the alerts.
Friday following the press conference, UT released this statement about the incident:
“Students, faculty and staff from UT Austin were evacuated this morning due to a bomb threat on campus. President Bill Powers, his staff and the UT and Austin Police forces responded quickly and appropriately to ensure the safety and protection of everyone on campus. UT officials coordinated with the City of Austin, UT System police as well as state and federal officials, to make sure people were out of harm's way and to thoroughly sweep the campus for any signs of danger. Thankfully, none were found and it appears the call was a hoax.
Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our students and the people who go to work every day to serve them. We understand that events like this are frightening for parents, family and friends of students and university personnel and we want to express our thanks to President Powers and law enforcement for their quick reaction and commitment to the UT Austin community.”
St. Austin Elementary School on Guadalupe was also evacuated.
The caller has not yet been identified. Officials did not release specific details of the call due to the ongoing investigation. Investigators have issued subpoenas to several phone companies to trace the call and checked cell phone towers.
At a second press conference at 3 p.m. UT police said it investigated a "suspicious container" on campus Thursday evening. They did not say whether it was connected to Friday morning's bomb threat, but they are saying that it turned out to be just a cooler.