On Monday, several police cars and firetrucks lined Forney Avenue, blocking the entrance to Self Hall due to a white powder substance scattered on the floor.
Jacksonville State University Police (UPD), along with the Jacksonville Fire Department (JFD) and the Anniston Fire Department (AFD), evacuated all students and faculty, and closed the building from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
“A cleaning detergent can was found on the scene, but UPD wanted to run additional tests on the substance just in case,” said Buffy Lockette, director of public relations at JSU.
The AFD ran several tests on the powder substance and confirmed that it was a cleaning detergent, according to Lockette.
Assistant Professor of Communication Jerry Chandler barely missed whoever was allegedly responsible for the incident.
“I was going upstairs to my intro class at about a quarter after 9 in the morning up the center stairway and there was nothing abnormal. I came back down the stairway 5, maybe 10 minutes later to get something I left in my office and there was powder sprinkled at fairly heavy volume all over the stairway.”
Chandler’s first thought was “the cleaning folks are going to clean the floor,” but one of the women that works with cleaning services told him they were not planning on cleaning the floor.
“My initial thought after I found out that it was not for cleaning, was that it might be anthrax. Then I thought that if they did that in such great volumes, they’d be dead too,” Chandler said.
He called UPD and they arrived very quickly. Attempts to reach UPD Chief Shawn Giddy were successful, but he directed questions to Lockette. JFD officials, who were on the scene Monday, could not be reached for comment.
Chandler said, “if it was a prank, it was a prank in very poor taste,” and “I can’t help but think the person who did it needs help.”
UPD is in the middle of an investigation and is trying to determine if they will press criminal charges. They are asking any students or faculty who know anything about the incident, to contact them.
Self Hall houses the communication department, the campus radio, campus newspaper, and educational technology department.