Students and public police logs say that four Harvard University students were woken up by armed officers in their dorm rooms after a fake 911 call about a person with a “gun threatening violence” sent officers looking for the threat.
In an interview with ABC News, Black student Jarah Cotton, who was in the dorm when it was raided, said, “Things like that usually don’t end well for people who look like us.” “We thought our lives were over.”
Cotton, a senior at Harvard, said that loud banging on one of her suite’s doors around 4 a.m. Monday morning “jolted” her awake.
The public police log says that officers went into the room and searched it, but they didn’t find anyone with a gun or acting strange. Officers said they didn’t find any danger.
Cotton told ABC News, “I saw them in riot gear and like, they had assault rifles and all that kind of stuff.”
Cotton said that the students had to leave their rooms because officials were going to search them.
“We’re walking out, and everyone looks like they’re in their pajamas and barefoot,” said Cotton. “As Black students, we’ve all been taught that you don’t argue with the police.”
She said, “And we’re leaving with our hands up… Still, we have no idea what’s going on. So the only thing I can think is, “I haven’t done anything.” I don’t think any of my roommates did anything to deserve this.”
The tweet below confirms the news:
Several Harvard students say they woke to armed officers after a hoax 911 call sent officers to dorm. https://t.co/qACvCAijl5
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) April 6, 2023
Cotton says that when officers didn’t find anything wrong in the dorm room, they told him that there had been a series of phone calls to the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) with very specific information about a hostage situation and a gun threat in their room.
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Hupd Doesn’t Just Go Into People’s Homes
In an email to students, HUPD Chief Victor Clay said that the department got a few calls from a man who said he was going to kill a woman he had taken hostage. The caller reportedly said he was armed and gave a room number. Authorities say he said he would shoot police officers and other people in the dorm.
“HUPD doesn’t just go into people’s homes for no reason or because they feel like it. HUPD’s actions are in line with law enforcement protocols, which are taught to HUPD officers “Clay’s email should be read.
Officials in Massachusetts have gotten a lot of hoax calls so far this year. Threats to close down K–12 schools and now Harvard are among them.
The FBI calls it “swatting” when someone fakes an emergency to get the police to come help. Both the first responders and the victims can be in danger because the situations are usually high-stress and high-risk.
“This incident was deeply troubling and unnerving for the students involved and for our community,” said Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana in an email to students sent to ABC News. “We now know that other Boston area universities experienced similar incidents this week and are also grappling with the impact on their communities . . . We understand that the implications, fears, and trauma of an incident like this land differently for the impacted students and for communities of color more broadly. The College will continue to work with our University partners to ensure a safe campus and to support you during this difficult time.”
School officials say that the HUPD and the FBI are working together on the investigation.
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