FBI: ‘No threat’ from suspicious materials found in Rutgers-Newark dorm

UPDATE: A Newark FBI agent today said there’s “no imminent threat” and that it is “premature to speculate on the investigation, the motives or intent” of a 19-year-old Rutgers student charged with having a knife and fireworks in his dorm room.

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“In the wake of various unfortunate incidents at universities around the country, both law enforcement and institutions of higher education consider such matters to be very serious and will take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of everyone, regardless of the intentions of the perpetrators or circumstances surrounding the incident,” FBI Special Agent Bryan Travers said in a statement.

Federal investigators are working with their counterparts in South Dakota, who alerted authorities here after a student connected to the one at Rutgers was found with similar materials, he added.

The fact that an active investigation is continuing prevents the bureau from commenting further, Travers said.

However, authorities said sophomore Elan Haba of North Caldwell was released to his parents, even though he is an adult — an indication that no one is taking what was found all that seriously.

Meanwhile, Rutgers-Newark officials issued a text to students and others connected to the school:

“Last night, Tuesday, Feb. 7, our campus police received information from University of South Dakota authorities that led them to search the room of a Rutgers-Newark student. This operation was conducted along with the Essex County Bomb Squad and the Newark Police Special Operations Division. The teams found potentially dangerous materials in the student’s room and removed the materials. Subsequently students from University Square, Woodward Hall and Talbott Hall were evacuated.”

School officials again evacuated University Square today and alerted the FBI, which conducted a more intensive search – apparently for materials that might not have been detected on the first pass.

A bomb squad was called to a University of South Dakota apartment-style residence hall Tuesday night after “suspected explosives were found in an unoccupied room,” according to the Argus Leader.
“The suspicious material was discovered by University Relations employees after a call from the parents of an out-of-state student who had decided not to return for the spring semester,” the story says. “The parents had asked if someone could check on the student’s belongings.”

The first Rutgers-Newark evacuation came just after 9 o’clock last night, following a call from South Dakota authorities, who found information about Haba there.

More than 1,000 students who live at the dorms were brought to Robeson center and the Golden Dome Athletic & Fitness Center, school officials said.  Some were able to return nearly two hours later.

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