Nearly every sonata written by a composer with any degree of merit is composed of four parts. Each begins with an introduction, an overarching statement of the piece's tone. The exposition follows, presenting listeners with the melodies, the key, the tempo the composer has chosen to advance their idea. With the major ideas and tone stated, the music takes a turn; melodies are developed, scales and tempos are modulated. These deviations from a well-established pattern use their differences to highlight importance, that new key, that embellishment, and just important as what is now present, is what is missing in its absence. Lastly, the composer recapitulates the piece, returning to the original melody with lots of repetition to emphasise the finale.
While it seems unlikely that a person insisting that the cacophony of emergency klaxons resonate through campus has an intimate appreciation for classical compositions, there are parallels to be made to this Mad Man – and yes, my belief is that this is a man – and the piece of work he is conducting on this canvas of a campus. What we've seen is an early introduction of a desire to cause disruption with the early, erratic threats to Chevron and the Cathedral. In time, this Mad Man developed his exposition, presenting highly consistent pattern of threats - a late morning and early evening call during the weekdays, when students were more likely to be in class. Then, these patterns were developed into something else altogether; first with new buildings around campus, residence halls, and now more recently a complete deviation in their tempo - overnight threats, nights, weekends. The recapitulation, the crescendo, the coda, has not yet been written, or rather has yet to be played out. Undoubtedly, this menace has an ending planned, but the true sound, the true form of the piece will depend on the interplay between this Mad Man, the authorities responsible for catching him, and perhaps most importantly, the students of the University themselves.
So what does this collection of threats and evacuations, this pattern that someone has gone to great lengths to establish and subsequently deviate from, tell us about this Mad Man? This is a question that members of the University and law enforcement are working tirelessly to answer correctly. They are in the unfortunate position where getting the answer wrong may mean lives are lost. It's a high-pressure situation, and not an enviable one, and, perhaps to a fault, it is one that must rely only on analysis of the evidence at hand.
As an outsider (to the investigation, at least) who is equally motivated to have a non-violent conclusion to this ordeal, if not more so, I'd like to offer a profile that may be an accurate assessment of who this Mad Man is. This isn't driven by some desire to in the future remark "I told you so", but rather, to offer a different perspective, one born more from intuition than analysis of hard fact.
What was seen initially was a honed focus on the Cathedral of Learning in the earliest strings of bomb threats. Of course the Cathedral is a well-suited targeted for a variety of reasons: it is a high-traffic region during the day, which lends it self to concealing suspicious activity and causing maximum disruption, as well as the Cathedral as an symbol being closely associated with university identity. For someone intent on causing havoc to the university logistically and psychologically, the Cathedral of Learning is an astute first choice.
Chevron, on the other hand, is a less compelling target. It is a busy area during the day, but no more so than a handful of other buildings around campus. While the building has recently been renovated, its drab eighties architecture hardly makes it a symbol of university status. Instead, it seems that this building is part of a personal symbolism for this Mad Man – an event, or something of the sort, has made this building a locus of attention.
As these threats have continued, other buildings have had the unfortunate coincidence of having a bomb threat called in. The pattern, which had been established as bomb threats to the Cathedral and Chevron, no longer seemed to apply. David Lawrence, Thackeray, Posvar, Music Building, Frick Fine Arts, etc. These targets have little relationship with one another – in fact, they have become increasingly erratic in origin. So much so that the only pattern that one can possibly conclude exists must spring forth from the mind of this Mad Men. These learning buildings seem to have become increasingly personal in origin. I would conclude then, that if these buildings have some personal significance, they must be representative of places this Mad Man feels he was slighted. In short, it is exceedingly likely that he took classes which met in these buildings.
Further evidence can be inferred from this Mad Man's jump to the disruption of residence halls. With Towers being the first and most frequent target, the threats soon escalated to Sutherland, Forbes, Holland and Lothrop. Curiously, these dormitories are almost exclusively inhabited by freshman students.
So what can we conclude? No, conclude is too strong a word, but rather, what can we intuit? Here are some thoughts:
- This is a current, or possibly former, Pitt student.
- They greatly enjoy the feeling of being in control, of being able to coerce something as large as a university into action.
- They are highly meticulous. Initially, when the threats began to increase in frequency, I believed this was a sign that they were losing control of the situation, with the authorities closing in. Instead, it appears that these escalations are well-planned and well-executed.
- They are non-confrontational, almost to a fault, producing actions that cause an intended effect as opposed to making demands that must be met.
- Attention is a primary goal of this Mad Man. Every tweet, every status, every story is further proof of a well-executed plan.
- They are highly anticipatory, resorting to more elaborate methods only when such measures are absolutely necessary. For the record, I believe they are an avid fan of chess.
- Based on what little we know about the content of the bomb threats, they seem to have a dissociation between the threat of a bomb on campus and the actual violence of an explosion from said bomb. The threats characteristically relate to this Mad Man in a personal manner; he states "I have planted" as opposed to "There is a bomb", clearly desiring an association between the threat and himself. Yet, no imagery of the violence of a bomb explosion has been noted in the public record. This could lead to two conclusions. Either this Mad Man is uninterested in acts of violence and is instead using them as a tool to bring about some other goal - to what, I cannot say, though it seems unlikely that this is an elaborate prank. The other, more chilling possibility, is that he is in fact planning a violent act, but one that is not brought about by a bomb. Given the personality traits these threats have illustrated, I would imagine he is interested in a more personal form of violence, such as a shooting. Truly, I am not sure which of these possibilities is more likely, however I do hope it is the former.
- Given the targets, I would hazard to guess that the suspect is a male, 20 or 21, who is a student in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. More than likely, they had a difficult time freshman year, particularly in their classes, and believe the school has slighted them in some way. No particular group has been singled out in these threats but rather than the university as a whole, which is good in that no one need worry of being specifically targeted but at the same time makes this Mad Man more difficult to trace. Were I to guess further, I believe they lived in the Litchfield Towers their freshman year - not a stretch, given the size of the residence halls, but it may narrow down the field further. This was all predicated on events prior to this morning, in which Sennot Square and Benedum Hall were added to the list of targeted buildings. Nevertheless, I believe that these buildings were singled out more to remind students that the entire campus is not safe (likely driven by students' comments of the relative safety of these buildings).
I would like to follow up with this issue further in the following days. What worries me the most, and what I will try to follow-up upon as soon as possible, is that this Mad Man has so far anticipated every one of the school's responses. My worry is that this mot recent response by the school, the closing down of buildings to a single entrance and the inability to bring backpacks, was likewise anticipated. In that case, is this an opportunity for him to further his plan, or merely another victory in causing disruption in the school? Or in the case that the move was not anticipated, does he feel slighted that the school unfairly changed the rules? I sincerely hope we are fortunate enough to capture this Mad Man before the answer is determined.