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Suspected prank forces closure of MSU auditorium


Tim Pratt



STARKVILLE -- A Thursday afternoon French class at Mississippi State University turned into quite the adventure for a professor and a few of his students after the group was exposed to some suspicious white powder in a campus auditorium. 


Bob Raymond was preparing for a French class in a basement auditorium in Mitchell Memorial Library when he noticed several items, including two envelopes, on a table. Raymond opened one of the envelopes to see what was inside and came across the white powder. 


Raymond then called MSU police, who subsequently called in Terry Coggins, from the university''s radiation safety and chemical hygiene office, and the room was quarantined. 


Authorities briefly quarantined Raymond and two students who were in the room when he opened the envelopes -- Camille Washington, a senior from Illinois; and Lindsey Cacamo, a senior from Madison. Raymond and the students eventually were released and police took the powder from the library for further testing. 


The room was still locked as of 5 p.m. Thursday and will be until it is "thoroughly" cleaned, MSU Assistant Dean of Students Cade Smith said. 


After the ordeal, when the group was released from quarantine, Washington laughed when talking about the quarantine. She said the substance smelled like baby powder. 


"Hopefully it''s nothing, but I was nervous for a while," Washington said. "I was like, ''Do I feel symptoms? Does my throat hurt?''" 


Washington and Cacamo hoped the powder was nothing more than a prank. 


"That''s what you''d like to think if you have a sense of humor," Cacamo said. 


Raymond also laughed about the incident, but saw the seriousness of the situation. 


"I thought I''d better call the police in case it was something," Raymond said. "You''ve got to follow up on these things just in case." 


It is unknown when authorities will know the contents of the envelopes, but police and school officials took contact information from everyone involved in case the substance was dangerous. 


"The police will look at it and make the determination of what it is," Smith said.




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