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Dorm Investigation Concludes On Rutgers-Newark Campus

University Square at Rutgers Newark (credit: housing.newark.rutgers.edu)

University Square at Rutgers Newark (credit: housing.newark.rutgers.edu)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Officials at Rutgers-Newark say the FBI has determined there is no threat to students on their Newark campus after a student was arrested and his dorm was searched for potentially hazardous substances following a tip from authorities in South Dakota.

Helen Paxton, a school spokeswoman, said the investigation had concluded by late Wednesday afternoon, and students were allowed to re-enter the dorm — which had been evacuated twice in two days. Earlier in the day, students had gathered behind police tape in a large cordoned-off area around their Rutgers dorm building, trading rumors about what was going on.

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Police arrested sophomore Elan Haba of North Caldwell on Tuesday night on various charges and evacuated his dorm for about two hours after potentially dangerous materials were found and removed. The 19-year-old was arrested following a tip from authorities at The University of South Dakota, where a former student with an alleged connection to Haba had been found with suspicious materials.

Haba has been released to his parents. University officials did not know if he had retained a lawyer.

Paxton said the FBI conducted a subsequent investigation on Wednesday after informing Rutgers officials that a potentially hazardous substance may not have been detected in the first sweep.

“I was told that the investigation was ongoing and that University Square had to be shut down because the FBI was involved in a search of chemicals or substances,”

The FBI’s Public Affair Office said in a statement that there was “no imminent threat” and that “no one has been injured”

“It is premature to speculate on the investigation, the motives, or intent. Since this matter is currently under investigation, the FBI will have no further statement and is not taking further questions at this time,” the statement concluded.

Haba’s dorm building, called University Square, was briefly evacuated again Wednesday while the FBI conducted its investigation. Authorities have not said what the materials were.

Paxton said Haba faces multiple charges including theft, possession of fireworks and possession of a prohibited weapon, believed to be a knife.

Haba’s arrest came after authorities in South Dakota found suspicious materials Tuesday night. That came after the parents of an out-of-state student who had left the University of South Dakota after the winter semester asked officials to check on the student’s belongings, according to a report in the Argus Leader.

USD Spokesman Phil Carter told The Associated Press on Wednesday that an item located in a dorm at the school’s Coyote Village was linked to an address located at Rutgers University. He referred all further questions to the Division of Criminal Investigation, which did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)