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MIT Says Gunman Hoax Was Retaliation For Suicide Of Aaron Swartz

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CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – The person responsible for a hoax threat at MIT Saturday, said the gunman was retaliating for the suicide of Aaron Swartz.

Swartz was an Internet freedom activist who killed himself just before going on trial for stealing documents from MIT.

MIT’s Executive VP and Treasurer Israel Ruiz sent a letter out to the MIT community on Wednesday with a detailed account of the events.

He says the incident was reported to Cambridge Police through a Sprint relay message service designed for people with hearing or speech impediments.

The communication using the relay service went on for 18 minutes, and identified the alleged gunman by name. The person named was a member of MIT’s staff, was questioned and found to not be connected to the incident. Ruiz did not identify this staff member on Wednesday.

Later, the caller identified MIT President Rafael Reif as the target, and said the alleged gunman was retaliating against people involved in the suicide of Aaron Swartz.

Cambridge Police say that the FBI and Secret Service have both joined the investigation into the incident. No suspects have been named.

Ruiz also assessed the school’s response to the report, saying the tactical response was “outstanding” but they “should have alerted the community about the threat much more quickly.”

Since Swartz’s suicide, Internet activists have hacked a government website and formed a petition on the White House website to remove the prosecutor in his case.

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