Stanford closes Tresidder after reported 'suspicious backpack'

County bomb squad came in to investigate backpack reported on Tuesday morning, determined there was no threat

Part of the Stanford University campus was evacuated, and a police bomb squad unit came in to investigate a suspicious backpack found at Tresidder Memorial Union at about 8:55 a.m. on Tuesday, Stanford University officials announced.

A passerby reported the backpack, found shoved inside a newspaper receptacle outside Tresidder, as suspicious, prompting police to close off the area and evacuate many surrounding buildings for most of the morning.

Members of the Santa Clara County Sheriff 's Office Bomb Squad initially deployed robots to investigate the backpack, according to a university press release. The release notes that Stanford Police Chief Laura Wilson said officers respond to suspicious packages and abandoned backpacks on campus on a "somewhat routine basis."

However, she said that "this one made the responding officers uncomfortable, which is why we decided to use an abundance of caution in how we responded to the situation."

Stanford Department of Public Safety staff, Palo Alto police officers, members of the Palo Alto Fire Department and the Santa Clara County Hazmat Team were also on hand Tuesday. Stanford police and the Palo Alto Fire Department created a "unified command center" in the Tresidder Union parking lot to direct operations, according to the press release.

The university provided regular updates on the situation on its Emergency Information page, and at 12:31 p.m. posted that there was no threat and the area surrounding Tresidder would slowly reopen. By 1:49 p.m., all buildings in the Tresidder Union area had reopened and normal operations resumed.

"After a thorough investigation of the suspicious backpack, which prompted concern because of the manner in which it was abandoned, no threat was found," the 1:49 p.m. alert read.

After the county bomb squad removed the backpack, it was analyzed and determined to hold only personal effects, according to the press release.

Buildings near Tresidder including Old Union, Dinkelspiel, the Faculty Club and Humanities Center had been evacuated Tuesday morning. The rest of campus remained open throughout the morning and classes were not cancelled.


Posted by snoid, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm

nothing but paranoia...was at tressider night before and cops naturally surround me watching me buy my sandwich,,,of course im racially mixed and thats the reason...excessive security paranoia you thought...this incident proves you werent imagining things like onliners always say...cops profiled you...then next day their jumping at shadows...backpacks at least. of course you got stopped 3 times in a week like usual! this proves americans are streesed freaked out. admit it rather that going crazy like cops and americans of all colors are doing.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

There was just a big explosion at CoGen this evening, followed by a smaller explosion. Much steam was escaping, when there's normally a much smaller amount. I really hope no one was hurt. I was reminded of Nora Charles's thread about the weird explosion recently at Stanford, allegedly from fireworks.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:57 am

[Portion removed.]

This was probably a steam release. I worked at Stanford, these things happen. There is no evidence of anything else. And, last January's so-called "explosion" (which was coincident with Chinese New Year's) also left no evidence whatsoever.

Just like the January event, normal operations are just rolling along.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

What's your problem, neighbor? Yes, of course someone called 911.

Posted by Marian, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 12, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Why did I get a phone call at home in the middle of the night at 1:15AM telling me that the incident was over? If I am home I am not exactly in danger, such that you need to call me at 1:15 AM, about 12 hours after it was resolved.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Don't understand why you would write "What's your problem, neighbor?" Glad you called 911 though -- but there was no emergency response to the noises at CoGen because there was no emergency. The noises were probably explained via a phone call to CoGen. There was no evidence of anything of concern.

Also, police did investigate the Chinese New Year noise on campus and found absolutely nothing amiss in or around the bldgs. Again, no evidence.

In both cases, no one is covering up anything.

Tuesday's situation was different and required an emergency response. The suspicious backpack left in a public place didn't belong to anyone. Abandoned backpacks are taken seriously, especially since the Boston Marathon bombing. The police evacuated the area and investigated.

Marian if right...clearly Palo Alto's emergency call system needs some tweaking if it's calling 12 hours after the event !

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Feb 12, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Hmm, I hesitated to write it here, but last night I heard some very odd whoshing (never heard sound before, hard to describe) sounds coming from the Stanford/PA direction around midnight or so. I wonder if they were connected to the explosions you mention. I'm not sure where CoGen is, but maybe that was it. Naturally I was the only person outside in the neighborhood in my dressing gown and flashlight!

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Feb 12, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

As for the backpack, I'm glad campus police erred on the side of caution, as you just never know. I was driving to campus in the aftermath and it was disconcerting to see the big bomb squad van driving off!

Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2014 at 5:35 pm

This is from an email that was sent today from stanford ( director of public safety is one of the signers of the email)

"In a separate incident, some members of the campus residential community were awakened by a loud noise from the Cardinal Cogen facility overnight. A malfunctioning valve caused a loud release of steam. While the situation was not dangerous, it took some time to repair. The Cardinal Cogen plant is currently operated by third-party contractors. The aging facility will be replaced in 2015, when the new campus SESI facility opens."

Hope that addresses the loud noise issue

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Nora & Rupert - the Cogen explosions we heard were not that late - around 7:30pm, so it sounds like there were additional noises later on.

Nora - btw, Cogen is at Campus & Via Ortega.

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Feb 13, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Rupert of henzau and Hmmm,

Many thanks for the info. I'm glad it wasn't my imagination!

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