Bomb squad investigates suspicious package in UF’s Turlington Hall

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office’s Bomb Squad was called to assist the University Police Department Thursday after hundreds of students flooded out of Turlington Hall due to what UF is calling a “suspicious package.”

The fire alarm went off around 12:30 pm in Turlington Hall, followed by a UF Alert informing students of the package and warning individuals to avoid the area.

Law enforcement evacuated Turlington Hall and told those at Plaza of the Americas to move inside Marston Science Library or across the street.

“Out of an abundance of caution, UFPD evacuated the building and the immediate area,” a 12:50 pm statement sent out to the UF community reads. “Please avoid the area until further notice and follow the instructions of law enforcement officers.”

As of 2:17 pm, the investigation is ongoing, according to the most updated UF release.

UF also paused all university-branded social media channels as of 2:07 pm, according to an internal email obtained by The Alligator.

It’s too early to tell whether the investigation is linked to antisemitic chalk messages found by the university community early Wednesday, UF spokesperson Cynthia Roldan said.

ACSO spokesperson Becky Butscher could not provide any more details about the incident, other than that the squad was responding to a request from the UF campus and the incident is being actively investigated.

UPD Capt. Latrell Simmons did not return a request for comment as of 2 pm Thursday.

Sofia Daza, a 20-year-old UF nutritional science student, was in her genetics class in Turlington when, she said, the alarm started going off, accompanied by flashing white lights and an automated messaging announcing “this is a fire alarm.”

The possibility that the incident could be connected to recent antisemitic displays on campus is disheartening, she said.

“If it’s just a joke, this is still really messed up and disrupting everybody’s time.” [is] Offensive in so many ways,” Daza said.

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Angelica Caraballo-Santiago, a 24-year-old recent UF grad, said she was inside the UF academic resources tutoring room when Turlington was evacuated.

Her students assumed the alarm signaled a drill, but they quickly understood the severity of the situation when they saw officers.

It wasn’t until the UF Alert hit her inbox that she realized what was going on, she said.

“It happened all at once,” Caraballo-Santiago said. “It was very unclear what was happening because the alarm went off, and nothing was said.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Christian Casale, Ella Thompson and Aurora Martínez contributed to this report.

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