Suspicious packages sent to Biden, scheduled to speak at UB tonight

Oct 25, 2018

Preparations were underway for the first speech in this year's Distinguished Speakers Series at the University at Buffalo on Thursday morning. Vice President Joe Biden kicks off the 32nd year of the series.
Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

Members of the public attending the speech by former Vice President Joseph Biden Thursday at the University at Buffalo should plan to arrive early due to standard security measures in place for Biden’s appearance. Biden's visit comes as he was sent two suspicious packages at locations in Delaware Thursday morning, similar to those sent to other prominent Democrats.

Biden’s appearance at UB is the kick-off to the university’s 32nd annual Distinguished Speakers Series. The event is sold out with a crowd of 6,500. Doors to UB's Alumni Arena will open at 6 p.m. for ticketed patrons. Biden is scheduled to speak at 7:30 p.m.

William Regan, director of university events, said Wednesday that prior to doors opening, the venue will be subjected to a security sweep to ensure the safety of all those in attendance. All attendees will be required to pass through metal detectors and all coats and small bags will be searched. As usual, weapons and large items are prohibited. Backpacks and large bags will not be allowed.

Credit University at Buffalo

On Thursday, the university announced that in addition to the significant security measures used during visits by very prominent guests, it will be taking extra precautions because of the threats to Biden. Police are on heightened alert.

“Attendees can expect a heightened level of security when compared to what they’re used to when they attend our Distinguished Speaker Series events,” said Interim University at Buffalo Police Chief Chris Bartolomei.

UB Police have conducted walkthroughs of their plan with Biden’ staff, and are in contact with the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force for ongoing intelligence updates. Bartolomei said there is no indication that Thursday night’s event or any like it are being targeted for violence.

Regan said he’s been optimistic when it comes to any concerns over cancellation of the event.

“I really didn’t think it would result in a cancellation,” said Regan on Thursday morning. “Now that being said, I don’t know what’s going to happen the rest of the day. Hopefully things will end up with no tragedies as was the case yesterday. But I never thought it would happen. I think with Vice President Biden’s team, he’s kind of in constant motion, and it doesn’t make sense for him to cancel an event because of the ripple effect that will have through the rest of what he’s trying to accomplish.”

UB is no stranger to major political and global figures visiting the campus. Former President Barack Obama visited the University in 2013, while still in office. The Dalai Lama visited in 2006 and was seen by a sell-out crowd of 30,000 at the University’s football stadium.