Blast Rocks Yale Law School, No Injuries
By Dan Burns
Wednesday 21 May 2003
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - An explosion rocked an empty classroom at Yale University's law school on Wednesday afternoon and caused some damage but no injuries, officials in New Haven and at the Ivy League school said.
An FBI spokesman in Washington said an "explosive device" had gone off.
John DeStefano, the mayor of New Haven where Yale is based, told reporters that had yet to be confirmed but added: "We suspect it was a device that caused the blast."
The explosion came a day after the U.S. government raised its terror alert status to "high" from "elevated" because of what officials said was a renewed risk of terrorist attack in the United States.
Investigators from the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force were headed to Yale, officials in Washington said.
President Bush, who graduated from Yale, spoke earlier on Wednesday at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, about 50 miles east of New Haven. The president's daughter Barbara currently attends Yale University as an undergraduate student but was not on campus at the time of the blast.
Yale said in a statement the explosion caused "considerable damage" to the classroom and to an adjacent lounge. But DeStefano said there did not appear to have been any structural damage to the building and no windows were broken.
Jennifer Sperling, a first-year law student from Arlington, Virginia, said she was completing a day-long exam when she heard "a really loud boom" from a room on the same floor.
"My heart started pounding, I was hyper-ventilating. Then people started yelling to get out of the building," she said.
Mike Pyle, a second-year law student, said he was among a few dozen people in the law school building when the blast occurred.
He recalled at first he thought the noise might have been a bursting pipe from a nearby steam plant, and it was only when he got home that he learned the explosion might have been caused by a bomb.
"People are very lucky to have gotten out safe," Pyle told Reuters.
The explosion came at the end of the school's academic year. Dormitories on campus were empty, most students had finished their exams and the law school's graduation ceremonies had been set for Monday.
Yale said the law school would be closed through Friday but the rest of the university would be open and would operate normally. All graduation ceremonies were set to proceed as scheduled.
It was not the first time that an explosion has shattered the relative calm of the leafy campus. A decade ago, Yale University computer scientist David Gelertner was maimed by a bomb sent by convicted Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski. (additional reporting by Mike Miller, Larry Fine and Ellen Wulfhorst in New York, James Vicini in Washington, and Greg Frost in Boston)