ST. PAUL (AP) -- Authorities are investigating a break-in at a Macalester College storage room where burglars attempted to steal chemicals used in making bombs and drugs, according to a search warrant filed in Ramsey County District Court.
Agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force have focused on a Macalester student and his former roommate as suspects in the Feb. 13 burglary of the Olin-Rice Science Center. FBI spokesman Paul McCabe confirmed the investigation, but would not say what had been taken, if anything.
The warrant says the burglars reached the storage room by rappelling down through a roof opening.
The three-story chemistry building houses hundreds of chemicals used in class experiments, said Doug Stone, a Macalester spokesman. Agents seized records that show who was able to enter the building in recent months.
"It is definitely locked up and only certain people have access," Stone said. "You couldn't walk in off the street and take something."
According to the search warrant and a St. Paul police report:
Just after 10 p.m., campus security guards found two men who had rappelled into the locked chemistry storage room through a fire hatch. The men fled through a chemistry lab, leaving behind a rope described by agents as a professional climber's rope, available only from specialty sporting-goods stores. A janitor spotted one of the men and helped agents create a composite sketch of the suspect.
The warrant says agents don't know what chemicals were sought, although they are believed to be substances used "to make a controlled substance or chemicals to be used in terrorist activities for bombs."
Agents seized academic records for the two suspects, as well as student rosters for the school's Climbing Club, the Student Organization for Animal Rights, the Astronomy Club and students associated with the Astronomy Observatory.
In September, Thomas Heffelfinger, U.S. attorney for Minnesota, established the Joint Terrorism Task Force of county, city and federal investigators to handle any ongoing terrorism concerns. The group is part of an effort to build upon an existing task force established by the FBI office in the state two years ago.
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