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MSU Police shut down parking lot to investigate war memorabilia on campus

Posted at 12:13 PM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 09:16:35-05

Montana State University Police roped off Parking Lot 1, east of Jefferson Hall and north of Yellowstone Hall, on campus Tuesday to investigate a piece of war memorabilia a student ordered off the internet.

"Basically, a shipment of landmines were sold as internet novelty items across the country, and the concern is not that they contain actual explosives. But certain elements of the item itself, particularly the fusing system, may still pose a danger," explained Deputy Marvin Weber with the Lewis and Clark Sheriff's Office and Bomb Squad.

To get rid of the potential danger, bomb squad members located the landmine in the student's car, x-rayed the device and removed it from campus.

"We're pleased to announce the device was as expected. It was not rigged to explode nor did it have any explosive devices in it," said Chief Frank Parrish with MSU Campus Police.

Law enforcement officials say they never thought it was a bomb but were going to treat it with as much caution as possible regardless.

"We did err on the side of caution, and we believe it was the right thing to do," Chief Parrish said.

"Yeah, we want to make sure, in terms of us doing our due diligence, that if somebody reports that this is not dangerous, this is not set up to cause harm to anybody — we'll take that as information, but we still want to verify," Deputy Weber explained.

Officers also verified the student had no ill intentions for the device.

The parking lot and surrounding area were taped off for about seven hours.

Earlier Tuesday MSU Police provided the following information in a Public Safety Advisory:

Dear Campus,

Out of an abundance of caution, MSU Police have cordoned off Parking Lot 1 east of Jefferson Hall and north of Yellowstone Hall and some of the surrounding area to investigate a piece of war memorabilia that a student ordered through the internet and was keeping in a vehicle. The risk to the public is extremely low.

The memorabilia is an inert Bulgarian landmine. An online vendor was selling these landmines with the explosives and primers removed. Law enforcement and the U.S. Postal Service were prompted to begin an investigation after one of these devices was dropped in transit through the mail in Minnesota and began to vibrate. This prompted law enforcement and the U.S. Postal Service to investigate where these packages had been sent, which led to the student purchase at MSU.

Again, law enforcement believe these devices pose little risk, but out of caution MSU Police is working with other law enforcement to collect the device and have it disposed of properly.

At the present time, MSU Police have cordoned off Parking Lot 1 and the surrounding area. An explosive disposal unit from Helena will collect the device early this afternoon, where it will ultimately be taken to Malmstrom Air Force Base outside of Great Falls for disposal.

MSU Police hope to have Parking Lot 1 and the nearby area open by early afternoon.

This is not a test.