The event held by Students for Life of America at Rochester Community and Technical College was featuring speaker Noah Maldonado, the Minnesota regional coordinator for the group, when someone left a package that officials said looked like a bomb and smelled like ammonia in the middle of the room, as Fox News reported.
Police arrested the person responsible for leaving the package; the building was cleared by the audience. The Post-Bulletin noted, “Samuel VanderWiel, 19, was arrested on suspicion of felony terrorist threats, misdemeanor fifth-degree assault, disorderly conduct and public nuisance. As of Thursday morning, he was being held at the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center.”
Maldonado said, “It’s disappointing that a pro-choice student finds it appropriate to scare innocent children and families and try to intimidate them from peacefully praying and sidewalk counseling. However, it’s not surprising, when we see the climate on high school and college campuses, where speaking tour banners are burned, displays are vandalized, and administrators try to silence students.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of SFLA, added, “The Pro-Life Generation will not be silenced or intimidated. This is not the kind of back-to-school story anyone hopes for, but no matter the opposition, Students for Life will bring our message of hope to campuses in all 50 states.”
KTTC reported, “According to the fire department, about 50 people were evacuated and assessed for possible medical situations from exposure to the suspicious liquid or any fumes. Three patients did have symptoms including headache and chest irritation. Those patients were evaluated, but none were transported by ambulance.”
ABC6 reported: “According to (Rochester Police) 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.”
Students For Life Of America writes on its website:
We will abolish abortion.
We exist to transform culture by helping young people make abortion unthinkable and obsolete on their campus, in their community, and in our nation … Students for Life reaches students during the crucial developmental years of middle school through high school and college, inviting them to belong to a movement that respects others and stands up for those who don’t have a voice. We give them something of value to belong to. Students are invited by their peers to believe that indeed we can save lives, that we can help women in crisis, and we fight against the injustice of abortion. We give students a reason to believe in the values of making abortion unthinkable. Once students belong to the pro-life movement on their campus, choosing to believe in our mission of abolishing abortion, they then get involved in activism, taking tangible steps to be a positive voice in their schools, on their campuses, and within their communities.