Rolla Terror Threat

1 decade 2 years 6 months ago Tuesday, February 27 2007 Feb 27, 2007 Tuesday, February 27, 2007 9:37:19 PM CST February 27, 2007 in News

At about 2:30 a.m., police say the student called them trying to disguise his voice as a woman with a tip. When they arrived, they say, they had to subdue him using a stun gun. Initially they say, he threatened, "terrorist-type actions." The student had a note saying he planned on destroying the civil engineering building.

"They took the suspect into custody. This is a laboratory type, office setting at the university. So what you have, is of course, all kinds of strange materials around. And to the untrained eye, obviously we don't know if they're bomb materials, what kind of chemicals and stuff they are," said Captain Mark Kearse with the Rolla Police Department. "The FBI and Rolla Police detectives have interviewed the suspect and his roommates and we are going to continue to do so to make sure we know what happened. So they big hold up is we've got to clear that building and find out what that substance is," said Kearse.

Police found a white powdery substance coating a two-to-four page note that they found in the student's possession. Little is known about the suspect, but Captain Kearse says he is an international student. Kearse says he believes, at this point, the suspect is simply distraught over school work.

The university cordoned off a 5 block radius of campus around the civil engineering building.  Local and military hazmat teams from Fort Leonard Wood checked the building and found the white powdery substance to be powder sugar.

Some students didn't learned classes were canceled and went to class anyway.  But canceling class early in the day was an easy decision for the chancellor

"Everything was up in the air at that point. it was clear that we couldn't take that chance," said John F. Carney III, UMR Chancellor.

"We wanted to try to keep the perimeter as safe as possible and the best way to do that was to go ahead and cancel classes," said Robert Williams, Rolla Fire Chief.

One professor in the microbiology department was concerned, but was able to dismiss the threat because as an expert on micro-organisms and pathogens, she knew the student probably didn't have access to the material he claims to have.

"I understand that a threat was made and all .... the likelyhood would be very very small," said Melanie Mormile, professor of microbiology at UMR.

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