Harvard University Evacuated Amid Explosive Search

Police have evacuated four buildings on the Cambridge, Mass., campus.
3:00 | 12/16/13

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Transcript for Harvard University Evacuated Amid Explosive Search
This is a special room. This breaking news from ABC news digital I'm Dan Cutler in New York police evacuated several buildings. As they are searching for explosives on the campus of Harvard University according to law enforcement sources someone made a call with bomb threats. -- Harvard notified students on the school's Twitter account that the of this police on scene unconfirmed report that explosives may have been placed. In for campus buildings. As students and faculty. Are also being updated on the Harvard web sites emergency -- police are sweeping the areas nothing has yet been found. But some final exams have been canceled as a result. And joining me now with the latest on this is ABC's characters keep following the latest so Eric what do we know about this because -- the situation -- has been developing over the past couple of hours really. There was a phoned in threat saying that there were devices in four buildings which have since been. Evacuated we don't know whether there actually are any such devices whether there are any specific items that police are said to be looking at but. They did evacuate these four buildings out of an abundance of caution. And also canceled a certain final exams that are under way at the school and so now. The FBI the ATF all of the local police agencies Massachusetts state police. Are on the scene trying to determine what exactly this is is this a legitimate threat where there are actual devices. Or is this something more along the lines of -- a prank. -- and who again and we know because the situation is still so fluid there that it's very difficult to pinpoint exactly what is happening there. We're looking back -- and forth between some of the live shots from our affiliates there and also some of our own coverage as well there. Aaron do do we know that -- have like any of the bill has been put on lockdown at any -- been evacuated. For buildings have been evacuated before buildings where -- -- that that the -- where were said to originate and so those buildings have been. Evacuated there are now officers posted at the entrance of Harvard Yard the MBTA the transit police agency is now doing a sweep of the nearby subway station. And this is what -- expected in -- and -- in kind of response for it for this type of situation. Against Harvard doesn't even know -- at least hasn't communicated to us what it is that it's dealing -- but it's going to be Harvard. -- university police along with the Cambridge police department leading the way they've called in resources from Massachusetts state police in Boston all the trying to figure out. What if anything they they they need to take. You know as far as additional steps but at the moment that evacuated four buildings. And they have canceled final exams and now we're waiting for word as to what exactly is going on the school only said there were unconfirmed reports of explosives. We don't know whether they've actually seen. Suspicious items or whether they've simply relying on on the phoned in threat that was enough to prompt this kind of -- response we've seen this before Dan. You know and others in other universities where a simple phone -- phone -- old war report of somebody dressed to specifically. Is enough to trigger an -- This is the kind of page that -- apparently -- it. Granted that the sad reality wraps it right there in the fact is is that when students are notified either via the schools Twitter account or whether -- an emergency alert system. Unfortunate because the information comes out. So immediately there he is not -- there are oftentimes not a lot of details. For what it's physically the threat might -- but in this particular case that there would there were but he said the -- particular location specific locations. That were mentioned in this. So it is now a coordinated effort with federal authorities that right. That's right and that's. Common response especially -- we sought after that the marathon bombings in Boston -- -- a number of different agencies. Where were called the scene a Massachusetts state police has the most. Robust bomb squad an area but the federal. Agencies are going to respond as well offer of their resources and an expertise if Terry Kennedy type of explosives you'd expect. Alcohol and tobacco and firearms to be involve along with the FBI. And and authorities are -- I think ever since the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 when the school was. Accused although ultimately this was not found to be the case the school is accused of being too slow to respond. I don't think you see universities waiting for any type of additional confirmation or or information. If a threat -- phoned in maybe it was phone maybe it was email whatever it is. It's enough to prompt this kind of response on campus now whether this turns out to be some kid who didn't want to take his final exams or a more significant threat -- that. We just have to wait. What about the actual timing of this and because I know that the initial reports were kind of -- trickling in slowly when did we first become aware of this. Well we first became aware just a short time to go the bus and an hour -- and first word came from Harvard University itself and we seen this. A lot recently we've -- -- in Connecticut a couple of times. Where that the school itself. Acts on its own to alert the campus community of some kind of trouble or in this particular case to to evacuate. Four buildings after may -- -- threat was it was somehow communicated and and this some conflicting information whether it was phone or email we think phone. And the that it that the campus then responded and that then. Triggers a reaction from the FBI from the ATF from the state police all to a -- to bring resources to bear. In in response. The that the law enforcement officials have told us that there have been no. Explosions and no suspicious devices actually found so it seems as if the campus was relying simply on this. Threat that was communicated either by phone or email. To -- to take this action air and I know that she's got a good deal of time covering Boston reported net very tough -- -- about for the lay out in the size of of the campus. A law and Harvard is the most famous university in the in the nation and and one of the most famous in the world -- -- -- you know Harvard Yard has that the story -- gates and and fences. I Harvard Square in and in Cambridge's. Packed with with students and and faculty. But gosh -- of of all stripes. People who simply live in the area so it's it's a bustling area. And apparently -- these buildings and without the benefit of the map I can't say for sure but I believe ball toward that the Cambridge side as opposed to the Boston side campus. And that this would be the -- you know Harvard campus although there buildings all over the area. And and that's what you know prompted this this response and prompted the school to cancel these final exams and final exams canceled and again often evacuation of those four buildings from her reports -- of potential explosives. Being -- placed somewhere. On -- Campus university -- -- at the university there I wanna go one of the students that was evacuated actually spoke to one of our affiliates there I -- to listen to what they had to say. Yeah. Everything -- anything. It there about the diet and greatly -- -- go. The violence started and -- about me every. Thank you. They wouldn't let alone drinking. Dining hall because this -- won't ever intended. And its impact I don't I can't -- we do -- pretty -- actually believe. And you. So that was the response one of the students that were evacuated out of four buildings from Harvard University after there have been reports of explosives. An explosive threat being called in there. The latest that we're getting up from law enforcement is that as of now no suspicious packages have been found at either of those four scenes. But errors you've been pointing out though this is certainly. Still developing situation and not only is Harvard police working this as well but I would imagine Cambridge police are also working this and now the ATF and the FBI also getting involved in this situation. All because of a threat that we believe was phoned in to Harvard University just less than an hour ago or or thereabouts. And these four buildings the science center of the Emerson hall -- hall on super haul. All of speculated shortly after 9 AM eastern time after this phoned in threat and and it involved. Apparently unconfirmed reports of explosives and as we now know. Law enforcement officials have not been able to find any devices or anything else they -- they were checking some suspicious packages -- backpack left here or there. But as of now. No actual device found and so this seems to be just kind of a phoned in threat. The university took it upon itself to to evacuate these buildings out of an abundance of caution cancel a certain final exams for the day. And that triggered that the response that we're now seeing with the officers and and and agents from -- number. A different law enforcement department. It's the protocol on campus for this kind of response has really changed dramatically -- you pointed that ounces specific from from Virginia Tech. Right in front a high school level -- -- -- if you look at the example of what happened last week in Colorado. Administrators and teachers faculty are now all be instructed how to handle and respond to these types of incidents whether they be a threat or whether they be an actual. And an actual event there is now a different series of actions and and activities that are put in place. Either for putting a building in lockdown for locking down a room. For them obviously getting that federal agencies involved immediately. It's it's really has change so dramatically over the past. Twelve years nobody wants to be the one that didn't take the prudent step and and this is the causing a bit of controversy between. These schools and some of the law enforcement agencies when it when a school takes it upon itself. Two simply broadcast an alert via Twitter which has effectively broadcasting it to the world. -- it necessitates a particular response from law enforcement officials. Whether that response ultimately turns out to be warranted. Or not and now the police agencies are never going to cannot be criticizing university for taking what it seems to be a prudent step -- -- preserve students' safety. But on the other hand they don't want every bomb threat that's called intend to necessitate. There's that the resources of the federal government and American taxpayers to unit that and that's a difficult line to draw. Nobody wants to be wrong however and especially after Virginia Tech. Was accused in 2007. Of not acting fast enough to warn students no university. Wants to -- it to be too slow on the uptake either. Very we're very valid point I wanna go now obviously -- and another student that the timing. -- of this particular threat. Some of the students have been remarking that given the fact that is final exam week let's listen to what they said. I was in the passing. That's. Have you had you had exist today wouldn't have heard him. I have I have mistakes and this morning a -- at first I don't. Was supposed to take place in one of the buildings that they're talking about. Besides it. Filled with if you put. We're going damn good stories before the committee. It happens not a thing. Com. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- This really shot that -- Not worry about study. -- -- -- -- -- That was -- response from one of the students that was evacuated from four buildings on the campus of Harvard University today after police. Both on the local and the federal level are now responding. To four particular locations after some unconfirmed reports that explosives may have been placed. In those four particular scenes. ABC's -- -- -- is following the situation on this. -- have police or FBI indicated if they might be able to hold any kind of a briefing -- update information as they're going through because I -- at this point they said that no suspicious. Packages have been found nothing has been found there have been no explosions on campus despite -- apparently prudent evacuations of these four buildings according to Harvard University a step they took. Just after 9 AM eastern time in response to a phone or email threat. On a day that the final exams were to be given those exams have now been. Canceled there's -- police departments that are responding -- said they will keep the public updated so far though. There's been nothing else -- communicated from them as they try to get their hands on whether this was -- a significant and and very real threat. Or whether this was simply more along the lines of a prank or oral hoaxes -- -- -- to. When the student was being interviewed so far officers are posted at the entrance to Harvard Yard to keep people off campus and they're trying to limit the flow foot traffic of course. And as a prudent step the MBTA the transit police are doing a sweep of the nearby subway station. On the Red Line in Cambridge although we're told services is not affected there so there is a response from law enforcement officials to Harvard although it's not one that would suggest. Any kind of imminent danger persists. Course we will continue to monitor the situation -- thank you for that we appreciate that as always. We do have a complete report right here on abcnews.com and as new developments are coming out of Cambridge of course we will bring those to you as well for now on Dan -- New York. With his ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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