In a scene that could have been taken from the hit series “Breaking Bad,” two Arkansas college professors were arrested for allegedly manufacturing methamphetamine and the use of drug paraphernalia, according to Fox16 Little Rock. Henderson State University chemistry professors Terry Bateman, 45, and Bradley Rowland, 40, were charged on Friday.
An official with the university stated:
Both professors are on administrative leave, which was effective October 11. The Reynolds Science Center closed October 8 due to a report of an undetermined chemical odor. Remediation work by the university’s on-call environmental service company included scrubber systems to filter air and the temporary removal of some windows from Reynolds to aid ventilation. The building reopened October 29 after third party testing indicated the building meets all Environmental Protection Agency recommendations for occupancy.
NBC News reported, “Initial testing indicated an elevated presence of benzyl chloride in a laboratory, the school said. Benzyl chloride has been identified by government agencies as a chemical used in the production of methamphetamine.”
WFSB noted, “Walter White was the lead character in AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad,’ which aired from 2008 to 2013. The show told the story of White, a high school chemistry professor portrayed by Bryan Cranston, who turned to manufacturing crystal meth to secure his family’s financial future after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.”
The Washington Post added, “Bateman, an associate professor and director of undergraduate research, has been with the university for 10 years. Rowland has been there since 2014 … Manufacturing methamphetamine is a felony that could carry a sentence of up to 40 years in prison. A conviction of using drug paraphernalia could mean up to 20 years in prison, according to the Arkansas-based law firm Huffman Butler.”
Tina V. Hall, a university associate vice president of marketing and communications, stated, “The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is a top priority, and we continue to cooperate with authorities,” according to The New York Times, which added, “In April, Professor Bateman was honored by the school for 10 years of employment there, according to the university.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “In 2017, about 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid, with half of those cases related to the synthetic opioid fentanyl.”
Deadline reported that ironically, “Rowland was once called ‘Henderson’s Heisenberg’ by the college’s newspaper, a nod to Bryan Cranston’s character Walter White’s nickname on Breaking Bad. He once told the paper that he liked the TV show because it helped students become interested in chemistry.”
“Breaking Bad” aired on AMC for five seasons, between 2008-2013. It became one of the most honored TV series of all time, winning 16 Primetime Emmy Awards, while star Bryan Cranston won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series four times. Aaron Paul won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series three times and Anna Gunn won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series twice. In 2013, the Guinness World Records stated that the show was most critically acclaimed show of all time, stating that it earned that ranking “thanks to its metascore of 99/100 on MetaCritic.com.”