HPD bomb unit, HFD hazmat team respond to suspicious package at UH Manoa

Capt. Terry Seelig
Capt. Terry Seelig

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some classes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa were disrupted Monday, after the discovery of a suspicious package. The FBI says it was the fifth such package found on campus in the past week.

UH campus security shut down Maile Way near East-West Road, as the Honolulu Fire Department's hazmat team prepared to examine a suspicious package left in the loading dock of the Paradise Palms Cafe.

The discovery forced the evacuation of the eatery, Hamilton Library and three classroom buildings -- Agricultural Engineering Institute, Moore Hall and St. John Plant Science Lab.

"The secretaries, actually, were suddenly confronted with the police. They said, 'You have to evacuate,'" Edward Shultz, UH Pacific and Asian Studies dean, said. "Then, very shortly thereafter, an e-mail message went out."

Authorities say the outside of the package had similar handwriting to the four that were found on the Manoa campus last Monday. The others didn't contain anything harmful or threatening.

Still, officers with the Honolulu Police Department's Specialized Services Division, which includes the bomb unit, were called in.

"We treat every occasion to be serious," Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department, said. "We're not going to make a judgment that, oh, there's been so many that haven't been anything that this will be that way, too."

While police scanned the package for explosives, and fire did a field assessment for chemical or biological agents, professors taught a lesson on adaptability, conducting classes and keeping office appointments with students outdoors.

"Basically, schooling goes on regardless of where you are," Shultz said. "Can you think of a better place to be than right here in the shade?"

More than three hours after the initial call, the all-clear was given. The package containing papers was harmless.

"It just takes a little bit of time to be able to do a safe and effective test," Seelig said. "So the impact is regrettable, but it's necessary."

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