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Indian Student Claimed To Have Bomb, Anthrax

From those famously circumspect reporters at the Associated Press:

A hazardous materials personnel staging area, yellow tents at right, located near the Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Building at the University of Missouri – Rolla,, left, is shown Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007, in Rolla, Mo. A University of Missouri-Rolla graduate student claiming to possess anthrax and a bomb threw this south-central Missouri community into a panic Tuesday, but police suspect it was nothing more than an empty threat by a depressed student and not an incident of terrorism.

Student claimed to have bomb, anthrax

JIM SALTER

Tue, Feb. 27, 2007

ROLLA, Mo. – A distraught graduate student claiming to have a bomb and anthrax sparked a scare early Tuesday that shut down the University of Missouri-Rolla for several hours, officials said.

Nearly two dozen people, including a faculty member and eight other students, were quarantined after a white, powdery substance was found.

School officials said “possible bomb materials” were also found when the man was taken into custody. Officials described him as a graduate student who was apparently depressed and upset about his grades.

The incident started around 2:30 a.m. in a civil engineering building on campus.

Acting Police Chief Mark Kearse said that when police arrived, the student held up a bag and said: “This is a bomb.” He was armed with a knife and also claimed to have anthrax, Kearse said.

Police used a stun gun to subdue him. They also found a four-page note in which the student threatened to destroy the building, Kearse said.

“If we had to make an assessment right now, our assessment is that this is going to be a bogus or phony situation,” said Acting Police Chief Mark Kearse.

Still, a Fort Leonard Wood Explosive Operations Division team was investigating the possibility that a bomb could be in the building, and members of the Missouri National Guard were called to campus. A National Guard team took samples to determine if the substance was hazardous, said Lt. Col. David Boyle of the 7th Civil Support Team.

Officials said no one who had been exposed to the substance had shown any symptoms.

“If it was anthrax they would have been displaying some symptoms,” said Ray Massey, ambulance director at Phelps County Regional Medical Center.

The identity and nationality of the student were not released, though school spokesman Lance Feyh said he was an international student. The man was decontaminated and taken to a hospital before being taken to a holding facility at the Rolla Police Department, Kearse said.

Mayor William Jenks and Kearse said the student had been distraught over his grades, which may have led to the incident. Jenks said the student “had problems and was depressed.”

The 5,850-student technological research and engineering school campus in south-central Missouri was shut down during the incident and classes were canceled for the day while officers investigated.

“We have no hard evidence that there’s anything wrong in the building but we simply can’t take a chance,” Jenks said. “We’re taking a very cautious approach.”

Those exposed to the powder included a faculty member in whose lab the graduate student was found and eight students working nearby, said campus spokeswoman Mary Helen Stoltz. The remaining people exposed to the powder included emergency personnel who responded to the scene, she said. It wasn’t yet clear what the substance was.

Stoltz reiterated Kearse’s belief that the student was “using the threat of terror to get attention.”

“We believe the situation is completely under control,” she said. “For now everybody’s safe.”

It’s the media’s fault.

If they hadn’t such a long history now of covering up for Muslim terrorists, we wouldn’t be so inclined to suspect that this “international student” whose nationality must be protected (why?) is in fact a Muslim.

  Update!

From the local Rolla Daily News:

Bomb threat, anthrax scare close UMR

by Jaime Baranyai – Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 10:45 PM CST

The reality of terrorism was brought home to Rolla Tuesday morning when a distraught University of Missouri-Rolla student threatened the community with words that have shaken big cities across the nation.

Bomb. Anthrax.

Law enforcement officials responding well before daylight quickly had the situation under control, the community safe and the perpetrator, an apparently overwrought University of Missouri-Rolla student from India, in jail on a $250,000 bond and facing six felony charges, including one for making terrorist threats.

Sujith Venkatramolla, a 22-year-old graduate student, was arrested shortly after officers from the University of Missouri-Rolla and the Rolla Police Department arrived at the Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Building around 2:30 a.m. The incident started when Venkatramolla brandished a knife and showed a bag he said contained a bomb. He also claimed to have anthrax. At that point he was subdued with a taser gun and taken into custody…

A Terrorist Threat?

The incident started at approximately 2:32 a.m. Tuesday when the University of Missouri-Rolla Police Department received a call regarding a University of Missouri-Rolla student who was threatening terrorist-type actions in the Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Building. The call may have come from the suspect who was trying to disguise his voice as a woman’s, according to law enforcement officials. The University of Missouri-Rolla Police Department called the Rolla Police Department for backup and the two agencies responded to the scene.

“When we confronted the student he pulled a knife, held up a bag and said there was a bomb in it,” Capt. Mark Kearse, interim police chief of the Rolla Police Department, said at an 8:30 a.m. press conference Tuesday morning at City Hall.

Police officers tased Ventrakamolla and then arrested him. After being taken into custody, he was decontaminated, evaluated at the Phelps County Regional Medical Center and then taken back to the Rolla Police Department for more questioning.

In addition to the bomb, the suspect also said he had anthrax. A white powdery substance was found on the suspect and near a desk in one of the rooms of the Civil Engineering Building. A two-to-four page note was also found. Kearse could not release all the details of the note, but said it contained information about Venkatramolla’s various “missions.”

“Today’s [Tuesday] mission was to destroy the Civil Engineering Building,” Kearse said.

Kearse would not give specifics about the other “missions,” but said that “suicide by cops” was mentioned in the note…

Venkatramolla was supposedly upset after receiving the first two ‘B’ grades he’d ever gotten and falling behind in his classes due to illness, according to a source who wished to remain anonymous

Although they’re international students, Shil and Tipaji aren’t too concerned about facing a negative backlash from the community.

“I’ve been in Rolla for five years and Rolla has been very welcoming to international students,” Shil said. “I don’t think the actions of this student will reflect negatively on the whole international community. Life will go on.”

Even so, other students are still concerned.

“We’re all under a lot of stress and we all have hard classes, but I can’t believe somebody would actually do that,” student Adam Ryley said. “No matter how much stress you’re under you can’t do something like that and get away with it. It makes me concerned that the school isn’t checking on students as much as they should be.” …

Apart from reporting that the “anthrax” turned out to be sugar, the media seems to have lost all interest in the story.

Even if he is from India, of course he could still be of the Muslim persuasion. Though his name probably indicates otherwise.

But why was his name and nationality kept secret for so long?

This would seem to be our hero, from a posted testimonial for the Valmiki Group, a foreign student placement organization:

Valmiki Group – Appreciation

Full Name: Sujith Kumar Venkatramolla

University/College: UMR

Program: MS.Civil Engg

Intake: Fall’06

Testimonial: I consider myself as a lucky guy for being a student of Valmiki.Guidence initially given by Shanti mam and later on by tulasi mam was superb. I think I would never get a visa without attending Mock – Interviews. I can’t express all my feelings in words. I am thankful to each and every staff member of Valmiki.

They might want to check their screening procedures.

And now we have this police booking photo released by Phelps County Sheriff’s Office, showing Sujithkumar Venkatramolla,:

Photo

(Thanks to Kilmeny for the heads up on the Rolla Daily News update.)

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, February 27th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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