ROLLA, Mo. – A distraught international student claiming to have a bomb and anthrax sparked a scare early Tuesday that shut down the University of Missouri-Rolla, officials said, but the threat turned out to be a hoax.
Preliminary tests on a white, powdery substance found on the graduate student, whose name and nationality was not released, showed it was powdered sugar, said Lt. Col. David Boyle of the Missouri National Guard. Authorities said the student could face charges.
"Thankfully this is a false alarm," said Chancellor John Carney III.
The incident started shortly after 2:30 a.m. when police were called about a man making a threat. They arrived to find the student holding a paper bag and a knife. He said he had planted a bomb and said he had anthrax, Interim Police Chief Mark Kearse said.
When the man refused to drop the knife, a university police officer shot him with a stun gun, and the man was arrested. Police found a four-page note in which the student threatened to destroy the building, Kearse said.
The Fort Leonard Wood Explosive Operations Division was investigating the possibility that a bomb may be in the engineering building. Authorities were still checking the building Tuesday afternoon, Kearse said.
"We have no hard evidence that there's anything wrong in the building, but we simply can't take a chance," Mayor William Jenks said.
Twenty-three people — eight students, a faculty member and emergency workers who responded to the call — were quarantined after the white substance was found, but later released. Ray Massey, ambulance director at Phelps County Regional Medical Center, said none showed signs of illness.
The 5,850-student technological research and engineering campus was shut down during the incident and classes were canceled for the day while officers investigated. A Catholic grade school near campus was also closed for the day.
Classes were scheduled to resume on Wednesday, a university spokeswoman said.
The man, who was described by Jenks as depressed, was taken to a hospital. He was being held at the Rolla Police Department.