Tests are being conducted on a white powder found on a student of the University of Missouri-Rolla, who allegedly threatened to blow up the civil engineering building on the campus.
Police used a stun gun to subdue the student, shortly after he apparently tried to disguise his voice while calling in the threats. Investigators believe the student was acting alone and was very distraught about school.
Rolla interim police chief Capt. Mark Kearse said the incident began about 2:30 Tuesday morning when the call was made to police. Officers joined campus police at the Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering building at 14th and Pine Streets in Rolla and found the student inside.
Kearse said when officers confronted the student, he waved a knife and claimed he had a bomb inside a bag he was carrying. Officers used a stun gun to get control of the student and take him into custody. Kearse said the student also claimed he had anthrax, and a white powder was found on him and also at his home. (watch a portion of the news conference by clicking the watch button above)
The threats forced the evacuation of 23 people from the building, including the suspect, other students and law enforcement officers. All 23 were quarantined and decontaminated by the Rolla Fire Department's Weapons of Mass Destruction team. Decontamination tents were brought to the site just outside the Butler-Carlton building, although all 23 people declined to go through the process pending the outcome of testing for anthrax or other agents.
The Fort Leonard Wood Explosives Operations division was sending a team to UMR to go through the building to determine if any explosive device is present. Kearse said there are many items in the building that likely belong there as part of the course of study, but the unit would assess any danger more fully. A bomb-sniffing dog was also brought in to look secondary devices.
Kearse (right) said officers went to the students home, where they found a 2 to 4 page note, covered in a white powder, that threatened three "targets" on campus, and suggesting the students wanted to force "suicide by cop." Kearse said the student's roommates indicated he had been depressed about school.
Experts from Ft. Wood were also analyzing the powder to identify the substance. Kearse said the Department of Homeland Security had been alerted to the incident, along with the ATF and other federal agencies in keeping with protocol. "At this point, our feeling is this is the act of one individual who is under a lot of stress and is distraught," Kearse said. "
Classes at UMR were canceled for the day and the nearby St. Patrick Catholic School also canceled classes. Several streets around the civil engineering building remained closed to traffic late Tuesday morning. Updates on this story will be made throughout the day as further details are learned.
(aerial video, courtsey KMOV)