Suspicious bag in Coffman sparks FBI, UMPD investigation

The University’s student union was closed Monday as police dogs canvassed the building.

Police closed Coffman Memorial Union on Monday, August 10 to search for any potential security threats after night staff reported that a suspicious bag was in the building at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 9. Coffman will reopen Tuesday morning.

Police closed Coffman Memorial Union on Monday, August 10 to search for any potential security threats after night staff reported that a suspicious bag was in the building at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 9. Coffman will reopen Tuesday morning.

Tyler Gieseke

University of Minnesota police are working with the FBI after a suspicious bag found in Coffman Union prompted the building’s closure Monday.

Barricades blocked both footbridges leading to the student union Monday afternoon, and yellow tape kept students and employees away from the building. Officials said it’s safe to reopen Coffman on Tuesday, although the investigation into the suspicious package and who put it there is still ongoing.

A series of text alerts, email updates and Twitter messages — including a public safety update emailed to University students and employees — was sent to the public throughout the day Monday.

Coffman Union night staff notified University police of a suspicious package around 11:30 p.m. Sunday, spokesman Tim Busse said at a press conference Monday afternoon. Coffman is closed to the public on Sundays during the summer. UMPD officers worked with the Minneapolis Fire Department to inspect the suspicious bag, he said, which was on the first floor of the building and appeared to be an athletic or camping-style sack.

The contents of the bag and some security video footage of a person in the building concerned the officers, Busse said. At about 4:30 a.m. on Monday, the University issued a text alert telling the public that Coffman was closed so officials could “investigate a security threat.” The University’s Twitter account relayed a similar message at about 2:45 a.m.

During the day Monday, officers and police dogs canvassed the more than 300,000-square-foot building, said University spokesman Steve Henneberry. An event welcoming the parents of incoming students scheduled to take place in Coffman was moved to nearby Smith Hall, Busse said. Buses and Green Line light rail transit ran as normal.

The emailed public safety update urged the University community to remain vigilant.

“Be aware of your surroundings and if you see something, say something,” the alert read.

The investigation is ongoing, Busse said. Police ask anyone with information regarding the incident to call the crime tip hotline at 612-624-8477.