Man brings substance claimed to be cyanide to Searle

Ally Mutnick, Campus Editor

Someone connected to the University brought three vials of what he claimed was cyanide to Northwestern University Health Service on Thursday afternoon, causing part of the building to be quarantined and drawing emergency responders to the scene.

The man entered Searle at about 1:30 p.m. and turned in a plastic bag of what he said was cyanide to a doctor, said University spokesman Bob Rowley, who declined to elaborate on the man, citing privacy concerns.

University Police, the Evanston fire department and members from the Office for Research quarantined the lobby of Searle, where the man brought the vials. After isolating the substance to a five-gallon container, officials brought it to Technological Institute to determine if the substance in question was cyanide. The entire incident lasted about 30 minutes, Rowley said. The building was not evacuated.

The man had already left the building by the time UP arrived, Rowley said.

“The police have identified the individual and (went) to search his apartment in Evanston,” Rowley said. “To the best of their knowledge, no one else is at risk.”

The yellow liquid in the containers was consistent with a substance called benzyl cyanide, Rowley said, adding he did not think any emergency responders used hazmat suits. The substance will be tested Friday to determine if it is cyanide.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @allymutnick