By Jeff Wagner


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — University of Minnesota students want to know how a dangerous poison ended up in their Dinkytown apartment complex.

The FBI, who is now leading the investigation, says initial tests show the “potential presence of ricin” in the substance that the woman ingested at The Marshall apartment complex Tuesday. A team from its headquarters in Quantico was at the complex gathering evidence all Wednesday.

Neighbors are concerned, as well as their parents, who have seen this story unfold on the news.

The FBI has assured WCCO-TV that there is no risk to anyone living here at the apartment. But a test of the substance found did show a potential presence of ricin.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this, but it’s been exciting drama for sure,” said resident and U of M junior Taylor Hendrix.

She lives a few floors below the apartment unit in question. A student who lived there called 911 Tuesday saying she had eaten ricin, a dangerous poison found in castor beans. This prompted the building to be evacuated for five hours, in the midst of finals week.

A decontamination Tent outside an entrance at The Marshall apartments (credit: CBS)

“One of the mechanics from our building came out and yelled at us to, ‘Get out!’ and, ‘Don’t even save the pets or anything!’” Hendrix said. “Everyone’s Google searches are ‘ricin’ right now.”

The FBI is leading the investigation because ricin is considered a weapon of mass destruction. Agents, needing protective suits and masks, searched the apartment for evidence.

“This requires a very skillful recovery because we have to assume things are going to be dangerous,” said FBI Minneapolis spokesperson Kevin Smith.

Investigators said the woman, who had the possibly-toxic substance, showed no criminal intent, but Hendrix and other tenants want to know why the woman had it in the building in the first place.

“How it came to be that she became in the presence of this material is the question of the day, and we haven’t gotten an answer to that yet,” Smith said.

FBI officials says all of the evidence gathered will be sent back to Quantico for further testing. They were unable to provide an update on the woman’s condition.

Jeff Wagner

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