A college prank at normally quiet Newberry College “spun out of control” late Tuesday and early Wednesday, causing explosions and forcing the evacuation and search of a 293-person freshman dormitory.
There were no injuries, said authorities stressed the prank was not connected in any way any terrorist elements. There were no injuries associated with any of the incidents. Four people, apparently students, were being questioned Wednesday afternoon about their possible role in what officials said were small homemade explosive devices.
The only damage done was minor carpet burns in Brokaw Hall, the dormitory, from the chemicals. However, officials said that what might have seemed a prank caused serious problems and disruption as the dorm was closed down and parts of the campus were sealed off as swarms of law officers, firefigthers and bomb squad specialists descended on the normally-peaceful 90-acre campus.
The devices were made in plastic drinking water bottles using a chemical reaction from common household items officials did not identify.
Never miss a local story.
A press release by college officials and the Newberry County Sheriff’s office gave this sequence of events: - About 11:30 Tuesday night, there was a minor explosion in the Brokaw dormitory parking lot of Newberry College. Newberry City Police officers in the area heard the explosion and believed it to be a gunshot and investigated. They could not locate the blast's source.
- At 12:50 Wednesday morning, a second minor explosion occurred in the first floor lobby of the Brokaw dormitory. The student affairs office began questioning students and located items commonly used in an pressure device. The items were taken from a dormitory room. There was no damage or injury associated with this incident.
- Shortly after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, a third minor explosion occurred again inside the Brokaw dormitory. This explosion was also caused by a pressure device.
- After the third blast, students in the dormitory were immediately evacuated and the State Law Enforcement Division bomb squad was called to the scene.
Local, state and federal offilaw cials, firefighters and college officials will hold a press conference on campus at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon.
The 153-year-old Newberry College is affiliated with the Lutheran Church.
Reach Monk at 803-771-8344