UMass student charged with campus bomb threats

Dean Beckford, 29, of Somerville, was arraigned today on two counts of making a bomb threat for calls that emptied Wheatley Hall at UMass Boston last Thursday and again yesterday, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.

Beckford's bail was set at $20,000.

According to the DA's office, Beckford's downfall was in using pay phones at the Davis Square Red Line stop and near the Park Street T stop to make his calls:

Officers and detectives of the UMB Department of Public Safety were able to identify the phone number from which the call was placed. That number belonged to a pay phone at the Davis MBTA station. Department of Public Safety personnel worked with MBTA Transit Police to gather footage from public safety cameras at the station.

The second call was also placed to Wheatley Hall and came in at about 12:45 pm on April 22. As with the first threat, the male caller stated that there was a bomb in the building and that people inside should leave. Investigators tracked this call to a pay phone on Tremont Street near the Park Street MBTA station.

Based on their review of footage from Davis station, comparison of that footage from cameras on campus, and input from school faculty, UMB Police had by this time identified Beckford as a potential suspect. At about 1:20 pm, they detained Beckford as he arrived on campus.

In a statement, UMass Police Chief Donald Baynard identified Beckford as a senior. He added:

Although we apologize for the inconvenience that these incidents caused for students, faculty, and staff, campus safety is always our highest priority. I commend my staff for their timely and thorough investigation that led to this arrest. I hope this will be a clear and resounding message that we take these types of actions very seriously and will aggressively investigate and pursue criminal charges when unfounded threats are made to the safety of the campus.

A campus directory lists Beckford as a computer-science major. The DA's office reports:

In a brief, post-Miranda statement, Beckford allegedly stated that he was “not doing so good” with his classes but did not directly address the threats he is accused of making. When he invoked his right to an attorney, investigators ended their questioning.

Innocent, etc.

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Comments

Ever hear of a non-traditional student?

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I'm not even remotely suggesting that this man or his alleged actions are justifiable...but you must know that UMB caters to many non-traditional students, of all ages and backgrounds, the vast majority of which are working adults who are also busting their asses to attain a degree in addition to juggling other family and life obligations. Sorry to burst your bubble that not everyone can afford to go to a 4 year college out of high school and have to work even harder to prove their mettle in and out of the academic setting. #SorryNotSorry

How about maybe you save the judgement of his age and focus on the crime?

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Bingo

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I think I stopped thinking that kind of stuff was cool when I was, oh, twelve?

I don't care if he's getting a BA and an AARP card simultaneously. Pulling that kind of crap when you're almost 30 is a real problem.

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It's even worse when an almost-30-year-old adult does it, but

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when a person of any age pulls this crap, it's a real problem, imho. Bomb scares/threats are not a funny prank; they're illegal, and the perpetrator of such pranks could be responsible for the death or serious injury of somebody. I wonder how would the perpetrator of this bomb scare felt if somebody had dropped dead of a heart attack, a stroke, or an asthma attack, or even had an epileptic seizure, for example., as a consequence of this illegal and vicious act.

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Being 29 years old makes him a non-traditional student?

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I honestly don't think so, especially since many, many people have started college at a much later age, particularly nowadays. Age makes no difference these days, really. People even go back to school at 40, 50, or beyond.

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Many people do

Traditionally students progress directly from high school to college, other students are described as non-traditional to differentiate. I don't think the number of people who go another route makes a difference. I finished my undergrad at UMass Boston and was glad that it was this way (I think the average age of an undergrad student was around 27 when I was there). The kids who were 18-23 were usually not too engaged in the class and the classes were better for having the older students.

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UMB and UML are big "after deployment" schools

Both UMass Lowell and UMass Boston have a substantial number of people who have recently left the military and are doing their schooling (as well as active duty folks sent for specific training). That drives the average age up.

Christ....what a stupid, vicious idiot!

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Let's hope that the guy gets some jail time for making bomb threats. This is a crime, and he could be responsible for the death of someone--A person could drop dead of a heart attack, a stroke, an asthma attack, or heaven-knows-what else as a consequences of such a vicious prank.

The guy who did it was 29 years old? That, imho, is plenty old enough to know better. He's no juvenile. Let's hope he spends some time in the slammer for this act! He deserves it!!

I still recall a bomb scare that occurred at the suburban public high school that I attended, back in the mid to late 1960's. It was an icy-cold winter's day, in the winter of 1967. I was a Sophomore in high school back then. The incident started out as a regular fire drill, but it lasted longer than other fire drills. We were all finally herded into our high school's gymnasium, where faculty briefed everybody on what had gone on; A kid had just called in a bomb scare. Instead of sending everybody home while police and firemen searched the high school for any bombs, we all had to go to our respective school buses and wait for afew hours until the police and fire men were absolutely positive that it was safe for everybody to go back inside the school and resume classes. Sending everybody home would've increased the chance(s) of a recurrence, so that's why we had to sit on our respective school buses until a thorough search was made of the school.

Not that long afterwards, a 14 or 15 year old Freshman (who was from my old home town) was charged with the crime, and spent the better part of a year in the Billerica House of Correction, because he was a Juvenile Delinquent.

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The Harvard of Columbia Point

Since UMass-Boston bills itself as the "Harvard of Columbia Point," we must assume that Dean was trying to emulate Harvard student Eldo Kim who wanted to delay his Gov. final with a bomb threat.

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