Investigators unable to determine odor that caused Thorpe Hall evacuation

Students stand on the curb outside of Thorpe Hall after being evacuated on Oct. 6.


Now a closed case, investigators could not determine the odor that forced Thorpe Hall residents to evacuate the building the night of Oct. 6.

Lt. Cameron Wassman of the Central Michigan University Police Department said officials are “scratching our heads” as to what was the smell that prompted the evacuation of the residence hall after 7 p.m. Friday.

CMUPD received reports Friday of a foul odor that caused students to suffer medical problems, such as coughing and difficulty breathing. The smell was located near the second-floor stairwell on the northeast side of Thorpe Hall. The department assisted in evacuating the building as a precautionary measure, Wassman said.

Sgt. Doug Lobsinger of the Mount Pleasant Fire Department on Friday said the product was some type of irritant, like pepper spray.

Wassman said people present who had been exposed to pepper spray in the past thought that is what it might have been, but it was just a rumor.

“In the short time it took our people to get there, (the odor) had already dissipated to the point where we couldn’t necessarily know anything was there,” Wassman said.

Residents were allowed to reenter the building around 9:40 p.m. Wassman said CMUPD officers made frequent rounds throughout the evening to make sure the odor remained dissipated.

Tests by Isabella County’s Hazardous Materials team were found to be inconclusive, Wassman said, and video surveillance did show anything being deployed. 

Wassman said CMUPD has dealt with similar types of incidents in the past, including issues with ventilation units and washers and dryers. 

Unless any new information is received, Wassman said the case is closed.

Wassman added he is not sure who made the initial call to the department but they made the right move.

“If you’re reacting to something, the right thing to do is to call 911 and get the resources to do exactly what we did on Friday,” he said.


About Evan Sasiela

Evan Sasiela is the University Editor at Central Michigan Life and a senior at Central Michigan ...

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