MIT: Gunman hoax linked to Swartz case, ‘not a game’

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (afagen/Flickr)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (afagen/Flickr)

Four days after a false report about a gunman on campus, a top MIT official is providing more details about the threat and the university’s response.

Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz sent a letter to MIT students, faculty, and staff Wednesday that provided a timeline of Saturday’s incident. It began at 7:28 a.m., when Cambridge Police received a tip through an Sprint relay service, usually used by people with speech or hearing impairments.

“The communication went on for more than 18 minutes, with a Sprint relay operator interacting with the caller and in turn communicating with a CPD dispatcher,” Ruiz wrote.

“One minute into the communication, the caller reported someone with a ‘really big gun,’ and ‘armor’ who was ‘getting out of control.’ The CPD dispatcher immediately sent CPD units and State Police to the site, and notified MIT Police.”

Ruiz said the caller identified the supposed gunman as an MIT staff member, who authorities say was not involved in the hoax.

The alleged target of the threat was MIT President Rafael Reif. “At 7:37 AM, the caller indicated that the alleged gunman was retaliating against people involved in the suicide of Aaron Swartz,” Ruiz wrote.

As earlier reported by Metro, Swartz was an Internet activist who committed suicide last month. He was being prosecuted by the US Attorney’s office in Boston for allegedly hacking into the MIT network and stealing millions of documents.

Ruiz called the police response “outstanding,” thanking officers for their “courage and professionalism.”

He also addressed critics who say MIT should have notified students and staff about the incident sooner. The first text message alert was sent more than an hour after police received the call.

“We should have alerted the community about the threat much more quickly and that the communication protocols we had in place did not meet the community’s reasonable expectations,” Ruiz said. “We have already revised our procedures to make sure that we are now in a position to alert the community within minutes of such an incident.”

Ruiz said even though the report turned out to be false, it was a serious incident. With a high number of armed police officers searching campus for the alleged gunman, someone could have accidentally been hurt.

“This hoax also involved a malicious allegation against a member of our community and direct threats of physical harm to MIT staff,” Ruiz wrote. “We should all understand that this is not a game.”

Ruiz is asking the MIT Security and Emergency Management Office to hold briefings with the university community about the school’s safety procedures.

The FBI and Secret Service are helping Cambridge police find the person who made the false report.

Read the full text of Ruiz’s letter in the MIT Tech.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Dr. Dre is king of hip hop with…

With $620 million in estimated pre-tax earnings, veteran rapper and record producer Dr. Dre topped Forbes list as the highest paid hip hop artist, ousting Sean "Diddy" Combs from the…

News

Bin Laden son-in-law sentenced to life in U.S.…

A seemingly unrepentant Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday in New York following his conviction on terrorism charges.

National

Bloomberg: Going green will grant you longer life…

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tells Metro that cities are where fighting global warming can make a difference, and increase people’s lifespan.

International

Ban Ki Moon: "Climate change is an issue…

My message to you is: make your voice heard and your actions count. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.

Television

Craig Ferguson wants you to see his new…

Craig Ferguson thinks his new game show will become "a comedy show in which a game is played and money is won."

Television

Anthony Anderson on dealing with your 'ish'

Anthony Anderson discusses finding the humor in his "Black-ish" family.

Gossip

Photos: See who Robert Pattinson was caught holding…

Robert Pattinson has a new girlfriend.

The Word

The Word: Kris and Bruce Jenner's predictably public…

They said it wouldn't last — mostly because of that separation almost a year ago. And now, more than a year later, Kris and Bruce…

MLB

Bud Selig honors Derek Jeter as both prepare…

Bud Selig’s 22-year reign as commissioner will end Sunday, and while it’s had its share of negative moments, it also had Derek Jeter.

NFL

Column: Geno Smith not the answer for Jets…

There were highs for Jets quarterback Geno Smith in Monday night’s loss to the Bears and there were incredible lows.

NFL

3 things that went right in Jets loss…

It wasn't the result the Jets wanted, a 27-19 loss to the Bears, but this team deserves some credit.

Sports

Here's the 8 best and worst sporting goodbyes

With Derek Jeter set to retire following the 2014 Major League Baseball season, we look back at some of the great and not-so-great sporting goodbyes.

Home

NYC fall real estate hot list

The upcoming developments and areas everyone's buzzing about.

Style

Milan Fashion Week shows the best of Italian…

Metro rounds up the cut of the collections at Milan Fashion Week.

Tech

The 2014 Maker Faire saw robots, printers and…

Got a broken button maker? There’s a fix for that – and Tony Stanzione of the Fixers’ Collective says he can show you how.

Parenting

First look: Uniqlo's fall/winter 2014 kids collection

Get a sneak peek at Uniqlo's kids and babies fall/winter 2014 line.