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Man, 19, arrested after suspicious bottle caused 50-70 people to evacuate Rochester pro-life event

Samuel Vanderwiel

A 19-year-old man is facing multiple charges in connection to a suspicious package that caused around 50-70 people to evacuate a pro-life event at Rochester Community and Technical College.

Posted: Sep 19, 2019 9:56 AM
Updated: Sep 19, 2019 1:04 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - A 19-year-old man is facing multiple charges in connection to a suspicious bottle that caused around 50-70 people to evacuate a pro-life event at Rochester Community and Technical College.

Samuel Vanderwiel is facing a felony charge of terroristic threats and misdemeanor charges (5th-degree assault, disorderly conduct, public nuisance annoy/injure/endanger safety) after Wednesday’s incident.

Police described the bottle as a “self-made stink bomb” and said it was ammonia with an added substance to make a sulfate gas.
Police said Vanderwiel attempted to get others to protest the event to no avail. Authorities added that he was also planning to throw eggs at the displays during the event.

RCTC security called in the Rochester Fire Department a little before 8 p.m. about a package with some liquid in it found in Hill Theater.

The theater was evacuated and a few people reported symptoms like scratchy throats. They were checked out by Mayo Ambulance Service and no injuries are being reported. Authorities say they’re not sure how anyone could have gotten in contact with the liquid chemical inside the package.

"RFD was called for a report of a suspicious container with liquid inside left inside an occupied theater. First-arriving units found about 50 people evacuated and waiting outside the building. Security met RFD and advised they believed everyone was out of the theater and a suspect was in custody," the Rochester Fire Department said.

"Three patients with symptoms including headache and chest irritation were located and evaluated. None were transported by ambulance. RFD crews entered the theatre wearing SCBA and assessed the container and air quality with handheld monitors. The container was a water bottle with a small amount of liquid inside. Crews received a slight reading of ammonia on their
monitors."

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