University of Massachusetts Boston police yesterday arrested a suspect who is being charged in connection with the two bomb threats called into the university over the past week.
Dean Beckford, a 29-year-old senior from Somerville, was arrested yesterday afternoon and has been charged with two counts of threat concerning the location of dangerous items or a hijack: referencing an explosive or incendiary device, in relation to bomb threats to the university occurring on Thursday, April 17, and Tuesday, April 22.
In both incidents, a call was received at approximately 12:45 p.m. at a dean’s office in Wheatley Hall, the target of the threats, claiming an imminent danger of an explosion in the building. In each case, police immediately evacuated Wheatley Hall and, with the help of Boston Police and Massachusetts State Police bomb squads, searched the building. No explosive device was found in either incident and the building was reopened for classes and activities.
During these incidents, the university activated its emergency alert system, using social media, phone calls, text messages, and email to notify the UMass Boston community of the threat and keep them abreast of the situation. Messages were also delivered directly to computer screens on campus and information was posted on the university’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.
Although we apologize for the inconvenience that these incidents caused for students, faculty, and staff, campus safety is always our highest priority. I commend my staff for their timely and thorough investigation that led to this arrest. I hope this will be a clear and resounding message that we take these types of actions very seriously and will aggressively investigate and pursue criminal charges when unfounded threats are made to the safety of the campus.
On behalf of the university, I would like to extend my appreciation and thanks to the MBTA Police for their assistance in the investigation, and to the Massachusetts State Police and Boston Police Department for their assistance during the incidents.