About 50 attendees at a pro-life event at Minnesota's Rochester Community and Technical College were evacuated following reports of a suspicious container in the venue and noxious fumes.
What are the details?
The event Wednesday night was interrupted following reports of a "suspicious container with liquid" that was discovered inside the venue, according to the Rochester Fire Department.
Authorities evacuated the venue, and attended to several people who reported minor symptoms such as throat irritations.
A statement on the incident read, "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 [self-contained breathing apparatuses] 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."
The college tweeted about the incident late Wednesday evening.
"Campus Community: The safety and well-being of everyone on our campus is of utmost importance, which is why I want to update everyone about the situation that occurred last night on campus," a tweet read.
A thread about last night's situation on campus. https://t.co/0iK8vlVEYX— RCTC Rochester MN (@RCTC Rochester MN)1568908071.0
The college later pointed out on Thursday that authorities identified the suspect as 19-year-old Samuel VanderWiel, who was arrested on "suspicion of felony terrorist threats, misdemeanor fifth-degree assault, disorderly conduct, and public nuisance."
The "suspicious container with liquid," however, turned out to an open water bottle, left in the theater by VanderWiel. Shortly after he left, a noxious smell filled the air. Rochester Police Captain Casey Moilanen said that the bottle contained ammonia and another chemical, which created the rotten-egg smell to drift through the venue.
'It's not surprising'
Noah Maldonado, speaker for the event, which was sponsored by Students for Life of America, expressed frustration with the incident.
In a statement to the Daily Wire, Maldonado said, "It's disappointing that a pro-choice student finds it appropriate to scare innocent children and families and try to intimidate them from peacefully praying and sidewalk counseling. However, it's not surprising, when we see the climate on high school and college campuses, where speaking tour banners are burned, displays are vandalized, and administrators try to silence students."