October 6, 2023

Man arrested in August bomb threat at MSU

Therese Apel

Mississippi State University's Mascot, Jak (Courtesy MSU website)

Mississippi State University announced the arrest Friday of a Columbus man on charges of false report of a bomb on Aug. 25 on the Starkville campus.

MSU Police Chief Kenneth Rogers said Isaac Terrell Pryor, 36, of Columbus was taken into custody on Thursday, Oct. 5, without incident. The arrest came after an extensive investigation by MSU Police, the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security’s Analysis and Information Center, the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office and the Starkville Police Department.

Rogers said persons convicted of false report of a bomb face a fine of up to $10,000 and 10 years in prison. The chief said Pryor may face additional charges as the investigation continues.

The anonymous threat was communicated to MSU Police at 6:24 p.m. on Aug. 25 by text message. Acting on that threat, Maroon Alert emergency notifications were sent to the MSU community to evacuate Hathorn, Hull, Nunnelee and Sessums halls. The buildings were inspected and cleared by MSU Police and specially trained K-9s.

MSU Police secured the area and swept buildings searching for the alleged device, with the assistance of the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office. No suspicious device was found.

“While the university is thankful that there were no injuries or damage from this incident, it caused fear and alarm among our campus community and among the families of our students,” said MSU Vice President for Strategic Communications Sid Salter. “The university incurred financial losses and had to call on law enforcement partners for assistance, including the bomb-sniffing K-9s. Schedules were disrupted and our students, faculty and staff were displaced for a time while we secured the campus.”

Because of those facts, and to deter those who might engage in similar activities in the future, Salter said the “university intends to ask officials to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law and to seek appropriate punishment of the individual involved.”

One of MSU’s most outstanding academic units is the Mississippi Cyber Center, a partnership with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College along with multiple state and federal partners and located on the MGCCC Harrison County Campus. The Cyber Center includes the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security’s Analysis and Information Center and was established as part of the MSU-led Mississippi Cyber Initiative.

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