Campus security evacuated businesses along the Mall Tuesday after they discovered against the Mailroom a black JanSport backpack with a message containing an expletive written on it, according to officials.
The words “HELLO! (EXPLETIVE DELETED) YOU” were scrawled next to the main zipper of the backpack, which was discovered during a routine patrol at around 8:25 a.m., according to officers.
“There was enough verbiage to consider it a threat,” said Sergeant Richard Martinez of the Sheriff’s Department’s Community College Bureau.
Upon inspection, officers found only a roll of toilet paper inside.
“The department treats it as an emergency,” Martinez said.
In addition to the worded message, the position the backpack was left in caused him to suspect it to be a bomb.
“It was placed specifically so that [if it were a bomb] the focus of the blast energy would be aimed at a particular direction,” Martinez said.
Procedures are in place for this type of emergency. Still, officers consulted with the college president and vice president for the area lockdown, Security Officer John Weber said.
“They said to close off the Mall from here to there,” he said.
After the situation, a Pierce College employee approached the officers to tell them that he was the one who moved the backpack to the location it was found in after he saw it on the open area behind the Mailroom, they said.
“It we had been notified about it earlier, it wouldn’t have been as big a deal as it was,” Martinez said.
According to witnesses, deputies and security officers closed off an area of the Mall with caution tape and asked passersby to evacuate the area, but it wasn’t effective in getting students out of the way.
“Everyone was still in the library,” said Melissa Davila, 19, who said that the suspicious package was in the library.
Weber confirmed this.
“Students were not listening, not even when we had the caution tape up,” he said. “They just went under it.”
However, officers were able to evacuate the college services rooms, the Freudian Sip, the Business Office, and the Great Hall.