Dear Harvard College Students,
As you know, our campus was recently targeted by a "swatting" incident. This is when an anonymous individual calls in a false emergency report to a public safety agency to prompt a response. On Monday morning, the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) received calls about a threat at Leverett House. While the caller's intent might have been to create fear and chaos, we are grateful there was no actual threat.
This incident was deeply troubling and unnerving for the students involved and for our community. We now know that other Boston area universities experienced similar incidents this week and are also grappling with the impact on their communities. The Harvard investigation is ongoing, and I am sharing a detailed update from HUPD Chief Victor Clay below.
Many members of our community are understandably scared, frustrated, angry, and upset that something like this could happen on Harvard’s campus. 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.
A list of such resources is below – you can find more on Harvard’s wellbeing website.
- The CAMHS Cares support line is available to students 24/7 at 617-495-2042. You can find more CAMHS resources on the CAMHS website.
- All Harvard students who have paid the Student Health fee have access to TimelyCare, the virtual health and wellbeing platform that offers counseling, health coaching, and self-care content.
- Your Faculty Deans, Resident Deans, proctors, tutors, and House and FYE staff are here to listen and support you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for help.
- Peer Counseling Groups resources are available.
- The Harvard University Chaplains are available to the entire Harvard Community.
- The Center for Wellness and Health Promotion offers workshops, among other wellness support.
- For academic concerns, your Resident Dean is an important resource for you. In addition, the Academic Resource Center also offers multiple options for academic support.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College
Community Update from Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) Chief Victor Clay
We acknowledge that the presence of police officers in the early morning hours in one of the College’s residential Houses can, and in this case did, raise fears and anxiety. Entering a residential House is not something that HUPD does without cause or takes lightly. The steps taken by HUPD are aligned with law enforcement protocols, which HUPD officers are trained on. The steps we take are based on an assessment of the level of potential threat to members of our community with regards to a potential public safety situation. With that in mind, we do want to share the following additional information regarding the call and HUPD response on Monday, April 3.
At approximately 3:23 a.m., on Monday, April 3, HUPD received the first of three calls that extended over a period of nearly an hour, with the first two being brief, and the third extending for a longer period. Based on information stated by the caller across each call, the indications of a potential threat were elevated.
The caller identified himself as a male. The caller stated that he had a female hostage who he had attempted to fatally injure, but that she was still alive. The caller stated that he had been a student at Harvard this semester but had been “kicked out.” The caller also stated his location was within Leverett House, referring to a room number that indicated a strong familiarity with Leverett House and how its rooms are commonly referenced by Harvard community members. In the third call, the caller indicated that he was armed. He first threatened to shoot law enforcement who entered the room, and then later threatened to leave the room and that he would start shooting as he did so.
With reference to the caller’s location being within Leverett House HUPD officers were dispatched toward Leverett House. As this movement was taking place, HUPD determined two female students occupied the room specified by the caller. At that time, HUPD attempted to contact both female students by phone. Again, following protocols, HUPD determined that it was necessary to enter the room to ensure the safety of the occupants.
At approximately 4:15 a.m., HUPD officers knocked on the door of the room and announced their presence by stating “Harvard Police.” The officers then opened the door with a key. Upon entry, the occupants were told to exit to the hallway, showing their hands as they did so. This command was given by the officers, who were armed, to ensure that no one possessed a weapon, based on the indications by the caller that a weapon was present in the room. Once the room was cleared of occupants, HUPD officers conducted a search and determined no one was injured, nor was there someone in the room who posed a threat.
The occupants of the suite were brought to a common room where the HUPD commander informed them of the reason for HUPD’s presence and entry to their suite. At approximately 4:41 a.m., residential staff began to engage the students directly.
The investigation into this “swatting” incident is ongoing, and HUPD is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.