A pipe bomb scare led Metropolitan and University Police to evacuate Munson Hall and cordon off several campus streets for about a half an hour Monday night.
At 10:15 p.m., UPD officers found what they thought was a pipe bomb in the plastic bag of a black male in the basement of the University Parking Garage, UPD Inspector Ross Trimarchi said.
But fears about a bomb quickly fizzled as MPD explosive experts determined that wires protruding from the man’s plastic bag were not part of an incendiary device.
The suspicious package precipitated the evacuation of Munson Hall – which is located next to the garage – and the closing off of I Street between 23rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
About five MPD cruisers and a dozen UPD officers responded to the incident, overseeing the temporary relocation of Munson residents to the Marvin Center and preventing cars and curious onlookers from accessing I Street.
At 10:45 p.m., students returned to Munson, which has been evacuated this academic year for incidents including a suspected gas leak and a trash can fire.
“We’ve been evacuated for gas leaks and fires before, but this time they wouldn’t tell us anything other then to get out,” said sophomore Colleen Tobin, who was one of 50 Munson residents who sat at tables in the Marvin Center before being told by UPD officers that they could return to their hall.
Sophomore Shin Kim said UPD should have told students about the suspected bomb because several students stayed in their rooms thinking the fire alarm was a drill.
Although the black male was not carrying a bomb, he was arrested for failure to appear in court for an unrelated crime, MPD Lt. Philip Lanciano said.
Lanciano said Monday evening that MPD officers could not identify the device in the man’s bag, which UPD officers thought was an explosive.
The male, who is unaffiliated with the University, told MPD officers that “he was a secret government agent here to meet his source,” said one officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The male, who looked about 30 and had a scruffy beard, was found smoking a cigarette in the garage’s stairwell.
The incident comes one week after an unidentified individual told MPD that he placed bombs in five D.C. schools. MPD did not find any explosives after searching every D.C. school, including GW.
-Jason Mogavero, Gabriel Okolski and Rachel Zavala contributed to this report.