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FBI Involved In Harvard ‘Swatting’ Hoax Call Investigation

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (CBS/AP) — Authorities are searching for suspects whose hoax calls triggered the evacuation of several buildings at Harvard University and a futile search for an armed man and bombs on campus.

Cambridge police spokesman Jeremy Warnick says police received four calls reporting bombs planted on campus and a man carrying an assault rifle at the Ivy League school on Saturday morning.

Harvard University’s police department says in a community advisory that it immediately ordered evacuation of buildings identified by the caller. The agency also notified colleagues at the Cambridge police and fire department, and their joint search of the locations failed to yield bombs or an armed man.

Warnick says police will work with FBI agents to identify two people who claimed responsibility on Twitter.

One of those Twitter accounts had made reference to “swatting” prior to the initial call.

The term swatting refers to a hoax call intended to draw a response from law enforcement, particularly a SWAT team.

The FBI first reported on the phenomenon of ‘Swatting’ in 2008. In 2013, a number of celebrities were victimized by these type of illegal pranks, prompting California to pass a law forcing violators to reimburse the state for the cost of the police response.

Massachusetts is hardly immune to the type of prank. A source in the Boston Police Department said that officers responded to two swatting calls within three nights back in June. In one of the cases, officers arrested the person suspected of making the hoax call.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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