Three George Mason University students were arrested for potentially having bomb making materials inside a dorm room. Federal investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have now joined the probe, which began last week when both drugs and paraphernalia that could be used to build bombs was found inside a dorm room at the Fairfax, Virginia school.
Capt. Brian Cozby from George Mason University’s Department of Police and Public Safety spoke to Fox News on March 22, stating that the students are adult aged, but their names would not be released until investigators confirm “these individuals aren’t linked to something else,” Cozby said.
“There was no threat ever to that building or to the university as a whole,” Cozby added. “We are working with local and federal agencies, including the joint task force and ATF.”
According to reports, university police were alerted to the incident when they saw flames through one of the dormitory windows. The Associated Press reported that inside the room, investigators found a “leafy green substance,” a number of match books with shaved match heads, a mortar and pestle used to grind substances, lighter fluid, hand sanitizer, candles and PVC piping.
Two of the students were arrested on drug-related charges. The third was arrested for having bomb making materials in his dorm.
While officials said there is no threat to the community or campus, a number of students and parents expressed outrage on social media that they only learned of the incident via local news reports.
“As a Mason student I find this disturbing and troubling to say the least,” one student wrote on the university’s Facebook page. “I await further clarification on the bomb-making.”
“This is definitely something we should have been made aware of whether it was an actionable threat or not. Not even an email,” wrote another student.
A parent of one of the students added that she was “very disappointed that the university did not inform students or parents about this. We still have not received any communication from GMU as to reassure us that our children are safe.”
Tom Longo, the interim police chief of George Mason University, issued a statement, which read in part:
“On Wednesday, March 16, the George Mason University Police Department received a report of flames coming from a window in Jefferson Hall. When police arrived, they found sufficient cause to request a search warrant for possible drug paraphernalia. University Police immediately obtained a search warrant and found drug paraphernalia as well as items consistent with the production of a dangerous device.”