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Texas A&M University shuts down for about 5 hours after bomb threat, campus-wide evacuation

Texas A&M University's campus was shut down for about five hours Friday after an emailed bomb threat prompted an evacuation of more than 50,000 people and a building-by-building search.

A&M Police Lt. Allan Baron said officials were still searching some buildings late Friday afternoon, but no bombs had been found and people were being allowed to come back on campus to retrieve personal belongings and their cars. Evening activities campus, about 100 miles northwest of Houston, were set to go on as planned.

The threat also would not prompt extra security for Saturday's football game between sixth-ranked LSU and No. 20 A&M.

"We're not preparing for a high influx of problems. We're treating it like any other game that is sold out," Baron said.

High-traffic buildings and facilities, including dining and residence halls, had been cleared by police, Baron said, adding that he didn't know how many more buildings still needed to be searched.

Baron said the bomb-threat email was sent around 11 a.m. Friday to the university's computing information services center. Campus police were notified 15 minutes later and officials made the decision to evacuate by 11:30 a.m.

The threat indicated there was a bomb on campus but did not specify where it was located, he said.

The evacuation order, posted on the university's website as a "Code Maroon" warning, directed those on campus to immediately evacuate by foot and not to use a vehicle.

Bus service on the sprawling campus in College Station was rerouted during the evacuation, but it had resumed by late Friday afternoon.

After the evacuation, the campus seemed like a ghost town. People could be seen off-campus, sitting under trees or waiting at the local restaurants.

Lindsay Cochrum, a graduate student who works at student activities, learned about the evacuation from the university's internal emergency message system.

"A box flashed on my computer screen telling us to evacuate by foot ... then we got a tweet" with more information, she said.

"No one was shocked per se," Cochrum said, adding that it wasn't uncommon to have bomb threats on college campuses. She said people were on their cellphones trying to let others know they were OK, but no one was panicking.

Andrew Oordt, a freshman studying petroleum engineering, said he was in class when students received a text message from Code Maroon, the university's emergency notification system.

"It said there was a bomb threat, so we walked out and there were people outside directing us where to go," the 18-year-old said. "Code Maroon did a really good job. People were just walking out, no panic, no worries."

Texas A&M has more than 50,000 students, according to the school's website.

On Thursday, an emailed bomb threat prompted Texas State University in San Marcos to evacuate three buildings on its campus. No bombs were found. Baron said officials would look into whether there was any connection between the two threats.

Last month, telephoned bomb threats at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as ones made to campuses in North Dakota and Ohio, prompted tens of thousands of people to evacuate. No bombs were found at any of those campuses.