UPDATE: Deactivated mortar round left in FLITE

Ferris DPS issues emergency alert and evacuates library after deactivated explosive was found

Two police cars were parked in front of FLITE during the evacuation.
Two university police cars were parked in front of FLITE during the evacuation. Photo by: Keith Salowich | Editor in Chief

UPDATE, 4:30 p.m. 12/7/16 –  The unknown object that forced the evacuation of FLITE Library was a deactivated mortar round which was left in Room 108 on the first floor of the library. 

“It was an actual surplus mortar round. The explosives had been removed and the top screwed off so it was turned into an ashtray,” Director of Ferris’ Department of Public Safety Bruce Borkovich said. “The full mortar was used as a display on a school project.”

The initial report fielded by DPS came from a faculty member in the library at approximately 11 a.m.

“We activated the bomb squad coming out of Lansing, which is standard protocol, and I stayed in touch with them as the investigation was ongoing,” Borkovich said. “At a certain point I was comfortable in the fact that there was nothing malicious about it and the object itself was inert so we called the bomb squad off.”

The student who left the deactivated mortar round was identified by DPS, but will not be charged with any involvement in criminal activity as a result.

“There’s nothing at all that leads us to believe that this student meant anything bad or harmful. It seems he wasn’t thinking thoroughly as to what this thing looks like and what others might think of it when it was left in the room,” Borkovich said.  “The student feels really bad about all the alarm that it caused, but meant nothing threatening or harmful with this.”

The investigation took just over an hour, so there was little interruption in student study time at the library.

“We’re pretty happy that we were able to get it figured out so quickly because these things can become pretty prolonged, and obviously with finals week coming up next week students need to be able to get into that building,” Borkovich said.

Library staff were given the all clear to return to the building at approximately 12:30 p.m. and students were welcomed back in shortly after.

“Excellent job by the officer and detective that responded. They did everything right by the book and both worked hard to get this thing investigated and solved the right way,” Borkovich said.

UPDATE, 12:22 p.m. 12/7/16 – Police have informed Dean of FLITE Scott Garrison that staff can safely re-enter the building, and students will be allowed in shortly after.

Another emergency alert message was sent at 12:25 p.m. Dec. 7 which read, “FSU BR Campus Emergency –  ALL CLEAR: The incident is resolved at FLITE. The object has been removed. Resume normal activity. See www.ferris.edu for updates.”

The unknown object being investigated resembled a military explosive that had been deactivated and was removed from the premises by DPS, according to the press release found on ferris.edu.

FLITE Library was evacuated by police and people were told to stay away from the area after an unknown object was discovered inside.

An emergency alert was sent at 11:17 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, which read, “FSU Big Rapids Campus Emergency – Unknown Object Discovered at FLITE. Evacuate and stay away until further notice.”

Ferris education sophomore Spencer Tenney was on the first floor of FLITE when it was evacuated. 

“I was sitting there with my headphones in when all of a sudden a policeman came up and told me we were evacuating and everybody had to leave and we had to take all of our stuff,” Tenney said.

Each floor of the library was evacuated, sending hundreds of students and staff members outside.

“All of us went outside and we figured it was just a drill or something,” Tenney said. “He came out and said ‘it’s going to be a while, you guys need to make other arrangements.’ Then that’s when we got the text saying there was an unknown object discovered.”

This story will be updated as more details are released.