Dec. 19, 2008
Investigators seeking tips on suspicious package in Burge Hall
Police are seeking help in determining who left a suspicious package in a Burge Hall elevator on the University of Iowa campus Thursday afternoon, forcing officials to evacuate the building and part of nearby Daum Hall and call in the Johnson County Bomb Squad to investigate.
The bomb squad detonated the package as a precaution and found that it did not contain explosives. Students were allowed back into Burge and Daum around 9:30 p.m.
"We know the evacuation was a real hardship for students studying for finals and making plans to go home," said Tom Rocklin, interim vice president for student services. "But student safety is our paramount concern."
Burge resident hall staff members discovered the package in an elevator and called UI Police around 4 p.m. Thursday. After investigating, around 4:45 p.m., UI Police directed staff to evacuate Burge Hall. About 700 people were evacuated from Burge, which has 850 residents.
To ensure that no one was still in the building, police conducted a room-by-room search. Additionally, residents on the north side of Daum, which faces Burge, were told to leave their rooms as a precaution, and residents of other nearby buildings facing Burge were asked to keep away from their windows before the package was detonated.
Students were encouraged to take their books and go to Currier, the Iowa Memorial Union or Hillcrest, where they could eat in the dining area.
"Thanks to the professionalism of the residence hall staff members, and understanding of the students, we were able to evacuate the area safely in about 15 minutes," Chuck Green, associate vice president and director of the UI Department of Public Safety, said.
In addition to the Johnson County Bomb Squad, UI Police were assisted by the Iowa City Police and the Johnson County Sheriff's Department.
The bomb squad detonated the package around 8:45 p.m. A follow-up examination determined that it was not an explosive device. However, a bomb technician said it appeared that the package was fashioned to look like a bomb.
The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information that may help in the investigation is encouraged to contact UI Police at 319-335-5022.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500
MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Parrott, UI spokesperson, 319-335-0552, email@example.com