Fake Bomb Forces Atherton Hall Evacuation
Atherton Hall, home to the Schreyer Honors College, was evacuated last night around 10:15 pm after a suspicious looking device was found by a janitor in a utility closet in the southwestern corner of the dormitory’s ground floor. The decision to evacuate was made after a University Park police officer who had been called to the scene agreed with the janitor that the device was indeed suspicious looking. RAs proceeded to circulate the building informing students of the evacuation and directing them to HUB Alumni Hall.
After the approximately 600 students in the building had been evacuated, a bomb expert with the University Park police entered the building and examined the device. The device appeared to be a plastic cylinder with wires and batteries protruding from its side. After the bomb expert had examined and x-rayed it, the device was assessed as being not an actual explosive device. The University has termed the device a “hoax.”
As bomb experts were in the process of examining the device, a few students approached police and said that they believed the device in question might be one that they had assembled a few months ago. Onward State learned exclusively earlier this evening that the students believed the device had been taken from their room sometime in the previous weeks without their knowledge. They claimed no knowledge of how it ended up in the janitor’s closet.
According to Vice President of University Relations Bill Mahon, the students who may have been involved with the device were being questioned as of approximately midnight tonight by police. Their names have not been released.
Mahon said, “It’s disrupting. It’s frustrating. Fortunately, we don’t have situations like this at Penn State and State College often, but given the events happening around the world you have to take situations like this seriously.”
Penn State released two blast updates via its PSUTXT system in response to the incident. The first, sent around 11:00 pm, warned the community to “avoid the building.” The second, sent around 12:24, informed the community that the device had been classified as a hoax and that the security precautions implemented, including the closure of Shortlidge Road from Pollock to College Ave, would be shortly lifted.
Students were allowed to reenter the building around 12:45 am this morning following a quick search by a bomb-sniffing dog.