Pitt grad student faces charges over bomb threats

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A University of Pittsburgh graduate student was charged this week with making bomb threats to a campus building to get out of teaching a class.

Nancy Bruni, 34, of New Kensington told Pitt police that she has anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder and had recently ended her health insurance, forcing her to go off of her medication.

Campus police wrote in a criminal complaint that Ms. Bruni said her anxiety was heightened March 20 and she didn't feel as if she could properly teach the Health and Illness course she was overseeing, so she searched for a way to cancel it.

Pitt police received a call shortly before 5 p.m. March 20 from a woman who said, "This is kind of strange, but I received a message on my phone that two explosions were going to go off tonight at Posvar, one at 6:30 and again at 7:30."

Ms. Bruni, a graduate student in the School of Arts & Sciences, was scheduled to teach her class on the second floor of Posvar Hall from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. that day.

Shortly after the first call, police received a call from one of Ms. Bruni's students, who said she had found a note in a women's restroom that said "Two bombs will be detonated in Posvar hall on March 20th 6:30 pm 730."

Pitt police obtained warrants and traced the information on the first call to Ms. Bruni, whom they confronted outside of her class last week.

They wrote in the complaint that Ms. Bruni confessed to calling in the first threat. She became angry that the university did not send out an alert evacuating the building, police said, and wrote a threatening note and placed it in the women's bathroom, where one of her students found it. That student called the campus police while two others went to notify Ms. Bruni.

When the school did not send out an emergency alert evacuating the building, some of Ms. Bruni's students became upset and "she used this fact to cancel class," according to the complaint.

Ms. Bruni did not respond to a request for comment and did not have an attorney on file. She was not arrested but, rather, was charged via summons and is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing June 12 on charges of making terroristic threats and threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Pitt spokesman John Fedele said that campus police have found no connection between the threats with which Ms. Bruni is charged and the dozens that disturbed the campus schedule last year.

"This was an isolated incident," he said.

He said Ms. Bruni is no longer teaching at the school and that he could not comment on her status as a student beyond confirming that she was an active student at the time of the threats.

He said Pitt police did not send out an emergency alert on the day of the threats because they determined that they were lower level, meaning they could search the building with a K-9 officer and explosive detectors. He said Pitt police did so that day and did not find any explosives.

education - neigh_city

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


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