ACU receives suspicious letter; closes Administration Building


For immediate release
Oct. 9, 2001

ABILENE, Texas - Abilene Christian University's Hardin Administration Building was shut down Tuesday afternoon after the school received a suspicious international letter that raised concerns of university officials and local and federal law enforcement agencies.

The letter was received and opened shortly after 4 p.m. by an employee in the university's Registrar's Office. When the wording of the letter concerned the recipient, the Abilene Fire Department was notified. In turn, the FBI was called in as a precaution. Upon its advice, the Administration Building was temporarily closed, leaving some 35-40 employees and students in the building until 7:30 p.m.

The Administration Building will be closed until at least noon Wednesday, and all morning classes in that building only have been cancelled. Employees who work in the Administration Building should not report to work until noon, and if the building is still closed at that time, they should report to Zellner Hall. An announcement about afternoon classes will be made at Daily Assembly at 11 a.m. in Moody Coliseum.

Some employees and students who were still in the building when it was closed were disinfected by the AFD Biohazardous Materials team before being allowed to leave. The AFD team removed the letter from the building and it has been taken by the FBI to its Dallas laboratory for examination. Results of the tests are expected Wednesday.

The 10- to 12-page letter was described by Jimmy Ellison, director of the ACU Police Department, as full of random language, neatly prepared but almost indecipherable in content. Although the word "anthrax" was not used in the letter, certain abbreviations could be construed as referring to the bacteria.

"At this time, we do not believe that there is any reason for alarm," said Jack Rich, executive vice president of the university. "However, in these days of heightened security, we must be careful how we handle these situations. We took every step we felt was necessary to ensure the safety of our students, our employees and our campus."

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Last update: Oct. 9, 2001

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