Suspicious briefcase in Bender successfully cleared
The Metropolitan Police Department's bomb squad safely disposed of a suspicious briefcase found in Bender Arena's parking garage on Saturday.
Officers on patrol first noticed the unattended briefcase this afternoon while sweeping the building in preparation for a visit from foreign dignitaries, said Michael McNair, AU's director of Public Safety.
As per District protocol, McNair's office quickly notified MPD, and the bomb squad assumed control of the scene, he said. Two hours later, MPD evacuated students, parents and faculty within a 600-foot radius, including the Mary Graydon Center, and by 8 p.m., Public Safety restored access to the three affected buildings.
According to McNair, MPD and AU Public Safety's concerns stemmed from an x-ray of the briefcase's contents, which depicted a host of unidentified electronics. Public Safety soon learned, however, that the briefcase's owner, a non-student videographer who McNair did not name, had only left his equipment in the middle of the road by mistake.
"The x-ray was black and white, and there was no way of telling what was in it," McNair said. "A witnessed related to us that they saw an individual park his car in the garage, get out with the briefcase and set it down, make eye contact and drive away. What we're estimating is that the person came back."
As a result of the situation, Saturday's Kennedy Political Union event was canceled, according to Tiffany Sanchez, director of New Student Programs. Parents and students who purchased tickets to the forum will be contacted directly about refunds in the near future, she said. Tomorrow's events, however, will proceed as planned, she added.
The Eagle will update this story as events develop.
Updated on Oct. 25 at 9:40 p.m.