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Suspect Arrested for Allegedly Leaving "Stink Bomb" at Pro-Life Event

September 19, 2019 01:59 PM

(ABC 6 News) - A 19-year-old Rochester man is in jail after allegedly threatening dozens of people at an event at Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) Wednesday night. 

The event was called "Embracing Controversy" and included discussion about abortion by a pro-life organization. 

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According to Rochester Police, the Hill Theater was evacuated around 7:45 p.m. 

Rochester Police Captain Casey Moilanen said witnesses at the event told authorities a member of the audience, Samuel Vanderwiel was acting suspicious and nervous. 

Witnesses tell ABC 6 News that Vanderwiel got up in the middle of the key note speaker's presentation, yelled something, and left the room. 

However, witnesses also said Vanderwiel left behind a water bottled filled with a liquid, that smelled like rotten eggs, and made people in the immediate area feel sick. According to authorities, some people began coughing, developing headaches and feeling light-headed. 

Captain Moilanen said moments later, someone entered the theater and asked everyone to evacuate. 

After he left the auditorium, Vanderwiel was detained until police could speak with him. 

Captain Moilanen said the contents of the water bottle tested positive for ammonia and another added substance to make sulfite gas, also known as a home-made stink bomb. 

Authorities said three people were treated at the scene for their symptoms. 

According to Capt. Moilanen, Vanderwiel told police he was protesting the event because he did not agree with the philosophies of the pro-life participants. Vanderwiel also allegedly told police he was planning to throw eggs at a display set up at the event, but did not because he got nervous.

Vanderwiel was arrested and is facing possible charges of felony terroristic threats, fifth-degree assault, disorderly conduct and public nuisance/annoyance.

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