On This Day in KU History: At precisely 11:00 p.m. on December 11, 1970, a bomb tore through the KU Computation Center in Summerfield Hall, injuring three students and causing extensive damage next to the main computer room. Carol Duster, a liberal arts sophomore from St. Louis; Vernon Breit, senior engineering major from Scott City, and Victor Harrison, senior business major from Wichita, were injured though not seriously. No one claimed responsibility for the bombing.
About four minutes before the blast, Frank Janzen, the Computation Center’s switchboard operator received a call from an individual who said, “There is a bomb in the machine room set to go off in three minutes. This is no joke.” The students cleared the building but after waiting outside in the cold for what they thought was a hoax, they decided to re-enter the building. It was then that the bomb was detonated.
A Lawrence Fire Department spokesman initially estimated damage to be $100,000 to the building and $2,000 to the contents. A more detailed official analysis released on Christmas Eve put the total repair bill at $28,900. No structural damage was done to the building, nor was the University’s $3.5 million GE-643 computer impaired.
This was incredible considering that the blast blew out a cinder block wall, large metal doors leading into the computer room were bent and twisted, shredded computer paper hung from the trees outside, and shrapnel from the blast was sprayed across Sunnyside Avenue. However, the force of the explosion was blocked by the stairwell and absorbed to some extent by boxes of computer paper and blank student schedules. Authorities considered this to be the main reason why no one was seriously injured.
The FBI investigated the bombing, but no arrests were ever made, and the crime remains unsolved today.
#summerfield #ku #kuhistory #rockchalk #payheed #jayhawks #history #kansas #kansashistory #americanhistory #1970 #vintage #retro #photography #blackandwhite