University of Texas police are looking for any connections a Houston-area man might have to the school after he was accused of placing several threatening calls to campus staffers last week.
Sean Evan Haddon, 23, was arrested at 9 a.m. Sunday in Harris County and charged with making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He was being held in Harris County with bail set at $300,000. School officials said he had never been a student.
UT police said the threats began April 7 at 3:57 a.m. when a person placed a call to the Police Department’s 911 call center, saying he had put a pipe bomb in the department’s lobby. Police said the caller demanded bitcoin and the dispatcher’s participation in sexual acts and said that otherwise he would blow up the building.
Shortly after that call was disconnected, he called again, threatening to blow up the building, police said. They searched the building and reviewed surveillance footage, but no suspicious activity or threats were found. Detectives began trying to identify the caller, university Police Chief David Carter said.
On Thursday, police said, the department’s 911 center received another call, again demanding that the dispatcher perform sexual acts and threatening to shoot the dispatcher. He called again the next day, this time to the school’s human resources center, and made his most serious and violent threat: He wanted to shoot up the university, killing “at least 200 people,” beginning with “the first person he sees,” according to UT police.
“At that time, we pretty much knew who he was,” Carter said at a news conference Sunday.
Investigators were using information provided by telephone companies and internet service providers to determine the caller’s location, which they concluded was in Crosby, near Houston.
Knowing that the person was making the calls from outside the Austin area, police decided not to notify the campus community until after his arrest.
“Once we identified where the suspect was — that he was not in Austin — we believed there was not an imminent threat to the university,” Carter said. “Had the situation been different, where we felt like the suspect was here in the city or in the area and could affect the university, it would have been a different story.”
Haddon was arrested without incident and was being interviewed by investigators Sunday at the Harris County sheriff’s office, officials said.
After obtaining a search warrant for Haddon’s residence, police said, they found some ammunition and firearms but no cache of weapons. Hazardous materials, explosives or bomb components were not found, “but we don’t want to take any chances, so we’re looking everywhere and going through all the locations,” Carter said.
The threats come just a month after a string of homemade package bombs killed two and terrorized the city for several weeks.
“Obviously, one of the things that was very important to us was recognizing that the community was absolutely terrorized during the bombing events,” Carter said. “It was really important for us to get on top of this as quickly as possible.”