The FBI has identified five persons of interest in connection with a series of bomb threats placed to historically Black colleges and universities in recent weeks, officials said, according to a source.
The persons of interest were connected to spoofed calls – emanating from a fake telephone number, the FBI official said, according to the source familiar with the contents of a call between FBI and DHS officials and state and local law enforcement on Tuesday.
No bombs have been found.
During the call, the federal officials went into more detail about the nature of the bomb threats, which started in early January, and the most recent, which occurred Monday against HBCUs and other universities, according to the source.
In the past few days, the FBI reported over 20 bomb threats to HBCU’s and other institutions -- from Howard University in Washington, D.C. to Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.
Several of the schools canceled classes amid concerns about the threats.
The FBI on Wednesday said it is investigating the bomb threats to predominantly HBCUs as hate crimes, according to a statement released by the Bureau.
“Although at this time no explosive devices have been found at any of the locations, the FBI takes all threats with the utmost seriousness and we are committed to thoroughly and aggressively investigating these threats,” the statement says.
They FBI says investigation is being coordinated with 20 FBI field offices and is the “highest priority” for the Bureau.
The first threat against the HBCUs came against Xavier University of Louisiana on Jan. 4, and according to the FBI official briefing state and local law enforcement, it was racially motivated.
Following that threat in early January, two Black churches were also targeted with bomb threats – none came to fruition.
There were also three bomb threats against Jewish facilities on the last day in January, but officials aren’t clear if those are connected, according to a source briefed on the contents of the law enforcement call.