Harvard Students Say Fear Lingers From E-Mailed Death ThreatsSelina Wang and John Lauerman
Harvard University students said they remained shaken after hundreds of them received e-mailed death threats, even as police said there was probably no danger.
Students and affiliates received the e-mails on Friday and police at the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based school said they are continuing to investigate. The posts probably originated overseas and “the threat may not be credible,” police spokesman Steven Catalano said in a statement yesterday.
The text of the first e-mails, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News, said, “I’m going to kill every one of you, I promise you, slit-eyes.” Recipients were mainly women with Asian surnames. Students later received updates from Harvard police, along with offers of mental health resources from faculty and student groups. Yesterday, the same students received another e-mail purporting to apologize for the threats.
“I still feel uncomfortable walking around myself,” said Michelle Chan, a senior who received one of the threatening e-mails. “I’m not 100 percent over it. It’s still on my mind and I’m thinking about it.”
Harvard police will continue to “treat the e-mail very seriously,” Catalano said. The department raised its security presence -- both uniformed and plainclothes -- on campus this weekend, and are working with other law-enforcement agencies on the case, he said.
A pan-Asian discussion hosted by several Asian cultural groups, titled “Perspectives: Being Asian American at Harvard,” had been scheduled to take place on campus at 11 a.m. yesterday. Due to the timing of the e-mail threat, the event was rescheduled for next week.
“It came at such an unfortunate time,” said Blessing Jee, a sophomore and member of the Asian American Women’s Association. “The entire community was so excited to have this time to come together and talk and have a safe space, and suddenly this safe space is threatened.”
Jee, who didn’t receive one of the e-mails herself, learned about it from friends who said they were afraid to leave their dorm rooms.
While the e-mails were signed as from someone named Stephanie Nguyen, the name in the sender line of the e-mail was Eduardo Nguyen, students said. Some students said they received a second e-mail hours later with the same text from another sender, identified as Huy Dinh in the e-mail return address. Chan said she had been receiving Facebook messages and e-mails from a person calling himself Huy Dinh since August 2013.
They were “crazy nonsensical e-mails and I didn’t think anything of it at the time,” she said.
Other students who received the threat said they had been contacted by Huy Dinh through e-mail, Facebook and LinkedIn.
“It was alarming that almost everyone on the list was an Asian girl,” Lee Ann Song, a senior, said in an e-mail. “I’m glad that the university took it so seriously, so today I feel safe.”
In another e-mail sent to the same group of students yesterday, the sender apologized for the threats, saying they were the work of a “little brother” who was using the e-mail address.
“I’m only 15 years old and live in France,” the apology said, which contained a few words in German. “There is no running amok in Harvard University I promise you.”