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FBI: Teenage gamer involved with bomb threat at Brown University, other Ivy League schools

No credible threat to the campuses was found, but investigation continues

Brown University's campus in Providence.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — A teenage gamer in Virginia is allegedly involved in the recent spike of bomb threats that reached Brown University and other Ivy League schools.

The gamer is said to be 14 years old, and the teen’s involvement in the incidents is unclear, according to the FBI. The threats in recent weeks affected Brown; Yale University in New Haven; Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.; and Columbia University and New York University in New York City.

Authorities told NBC News that several online persons operating on the chat app Discord were allegedly involved in “swatting incidents” (which is falsely reporting an emergency to law enforcement) throughout Los Angeles in August and September. The individuals in the group are also linked to about 30 other bomb threats, the cable news channel reported.

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Each of the suspects are between 13 and 16 years old, and one of the teens allegedly involved is living in New York City. Other suspects are from Maryland, Ohio, and Cyprus.

Each of the universities found no evidence of a credible threat to their campuses. Brown received a bomb threat over the phone on Nov. 7. Officials released the first safety alert at 3:50 p.m. that Sunday, which asked students to avoid Meeting Street near the Life Sciences Building because of “a suspicious package.” After about an hour, buildings were being evacuated and campus and Providence police were on the scene.

By 6:15 p.m., university operations had resumed and previously evacuated buildings had reopened.

“We are aware of the recent threats and are coordinating with our partners as appropriate. The FBI takes all threats seriously and we encourage the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to their local police department or FBI field office,“ said FBI spokeswoman Kristen Setera on Monday night.

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Brian Clark, a spokesman for Brown, told the Globe Monday the university has not received any additional threats after Nov. 7. After that day’s response on-site and then follow-up over the next few days, he said officials were reassured to find “no credible threat” to the safety of the campus.

”Based on what we’ve learned about threats received at other campuses, there are clear consistencies in the circumstances, though we don’t have the information to say definitively whether the same individual or group is responsible,” said Clark. He said the university has cooperated with law enforcement agencies through the Fusion Center, which is involved in the “receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information” between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.