A Wake Forest University student received a suspicious package in the mail Tuesday morning that prompted an investigation by the Winston-Salem and Wake Forest University police departments and the temporary closing of some buildings and parking lots on campus. Investigators determined that the package did not contain an explosive device or anything else harmful; it initially appeared that a bomb might be enclosed.
Police officers are investigating the case as a possible bomb hoax.
“It appears that someone may have intended for the contents of this package to look like a bomb,” University Police Chief Regina Lawson said.
The student, a junior from Texas, picked up the package Tuesday at approximately 11:20 a.m. at the university’s post office. He took it to his room, located in the same building as the post office, and partially opened it.
Concerned by the package’s contents, which included wires and metal materials, he called University Police just minutes after receiving it. It was addressed to the student and contained a return address determined to be fictitious and unknown to him. The package appeared to have been mailed from Oklahoma.
The bomb squad of the Winston-Salem Police Department initially entered the student’s residence hall at 1:10 p.m. Upon X-raying the package, the squad determined the package to be suspicious. The investigators then re-entered the building at 2:50 p.m. and tore apart the package using a water-gun device at approximately 3:10 p.m. They found nothing in the package that was explosive.
University Police officers are now conducting an investigation to determine the package’s source. During the investigation, police closed Poteat Residence Hall, where the package was located, as well as nearby buildings and parking lots. They included Kitchin and Huffman residence halls, Wait Chapel and the adjoining Wingate Hall, and parking lots P and N. Traffic was also directed away from the area.
The university’s post office was also closed during the investigation. Winston-Salem police officers, using dogs trained to detect explosives, checked the post office and Poteat Residence Hall and found nothing else out of the ordinary.
All campus buildings, roads and parking lots were reopened at 4 p.m.
“This student took proper precautions and we are glad he called University Police,” said Lawson. “As we have been warning since Sept. 11, everyone should be mindful of packages that look suspicious. If someone on campus receives something in the mail that they don’t expect or recognize, they should call University Police immediately.”
Last fall, Wake Forest distributed information campus-wide encouraging faculty, staff and students to notify University Police if they were concerned about any pieces of mail.
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