Bomb threat forces lockdown at York College and Queens College, NYPD investigating

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Police officers outside York College as students evacuate the building
Photo by Anthony Medina

Two CUNY colleges in Queens were thrust into chaos Thursday afternoon as both York College and Queens College campuses received bomb threats.

York College in Jamaica went on lockdown on Thursday afternoon after school officials received a bomb threat via email just before 1:00 p.m.

Police from the 103rd Precinct rushed to the scene and helped evacuate the campus and began a sweep of the buildings searching for suspicious packages. The bomb threat mentioned the York College Academic Core Building at 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. Students were ordered to leave campus as classes were switched to remote learning for the remainder of the afternoon.

An NYPD spokesman said Queens College in Kew Gardens Hills also received a bomb threat via email around the same time but it was not yet known if that campus had been evacuated as well. A Queens College spokeswoman confirmed that a credible threat was received out of an abundance of caution all campus buildings were closed until further notice. Queens College classes went remotely starting at 2:30 p.m. School officials asked all remaining students on campus to “immediately exit calmly through the nearest safest exit.” By late afternoon, the NYPD had left campus after investigating the matter and all classes and business services will resume on schedule on Thursday.

Back at York College, Deputy Inspector Ralph Clement, the commanding officer at the 103rd Precinct, confirmed it was a bomb threat that was sent anonymously to school officials via email.

“So we are taking precautions just to make sure it is not a bomb,” Clement said. “These things happen, not often, but they happen so we have to go the full route with it because God forbid it’s real.”

Students were visibly flustered over having to evacuate the campus as they went to the school’s parking lot to retrieve their cars. One explained that switching to remote was not a big deal.

“It’s just like a lecture but on a Zoom call,” he said.

Political science professor Michael Sharpe became aware of the situation when he arrived on campus as the students were departing. He was planning on administering an exam, but considering the alert, he decided to push it to a later date.

“I’m shocked,” Sharpe said. “I’ve been here for 16 years and this is the first time I’ve seen this.”

The NYPD and school safety officers gave the all clear just before 3:00 p.m. but the campus remained closed for the remainder of the day. Classes and work will resume on schedule and in-person on campus Thursday, a York College spokesperson said.

There are no arrests and the investigation remains ongoing, according to the NYPD.