** UPDATE on July 7: The two people who broke into the School of Mines research building late Saturday night may have turned themselves in to police. A spokesperson for the school said the two people who came forward with information Monday night claim to be the two men seen in the surveillance video. Campus police interviewed the unidentified people, but are still investigating and are not yet calling them suspects or persons of interest. However, Peter Han, the school’s Vice President of External Relations, told CBS4 Tuesday morning that authorities are not looking for any other persons of interest in this case.
GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – There’s been a break in the case after two men broke into a lab at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden and caused damage that could be in the millions of dollars.
School officials told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann that two people were being interviewed Monday night about the incident. But police are not saying if they’re the suspects who somehow got into the secured-access building.
Inside the building is where some of the greatest minds in science and engineering conduct their research.
“It’s the General Research Laboratory, the GRL, so there’s always research going on every day,” a researcher who didn’t want to be identified told CBS4.
At approximately 10:30 p.m. the night of July 4 two unauthorized people somehow broke in. Surveillance video shows the pair trying to open laboratory doors. Once inside the duo turned on several chemical safety showers causing water to pour through the three-story building, according to campus police.
“It was running all night, so there was significant water damage,” said Peter Han, Vice President of External Relations for the School of Mines. “We do have some forced entry into some of the labs, but we haven’t identified how they got into the building.”
It took nine hours before the problem was discovered. One researcher, who asked to remain anonymous, says his lab was hit the hardest.
“It’s not just a simple act of leaving a water fountain on. They’ve damaged millions of dollars worth of research and equipment and facilities,” said the researcher.
“It’s all scientific and engineering research projects so obviously the instrumentation is pretty advanced and so pretty expensive,” Han said.
The researcher also says natural gas valves were turned on in one lab, but thankfully didn’t cause damage.
“But still kind of scary that somebody had the thought of maybe blowing the building up, I don’t know, what it seems like to me,” he said.
At this point it doesn’t appear any items were stolen, but valuable time many researchers have spent there is almost irreplaceable.
“My whole career, you know, is based on the research that’s going on on this campus,” the researcher said. “So the first thing is, is the data safe? What have we lost?”
Campus police are investigating the incident and don’t know just yet if the suspects are students.
One suspect is public described as a white male, mid-20s to 30s, 5-foot-8 to 6 feet tall and 180 pounds. He has short brown hair with short goatee-style facial hair. He was wearing a baseball cap, black in the back and grey in the front with florescent green lettering on the front, He has a white t-shirt with a unknown logo on left chest area and a large “21” on the back with some lighter watermarking type printing.
The other suspect is a white male in his 20s, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds. He has medium short light brown hair and is clean shaven. He was wearing a white t-shirt with red, white and blue popsicles scattered all over the shirt.
The General Research Laboratory building is currently closed to staff and students while restoration crews clean up and the investigation is conducted. Some portions of the building and labs were not harmed, so the school hopes to reopen those later this week, but it all depends on how quickly the mess can be cleaned and restored.
Currently only the School of Mines Department of Public Safety is investigating and the Golden Police Department isn’t involved.
Additional Information From The School of Mine Department of Public Safety
Anyone with information or who may recognize the men are asked to call the school’s public safety office at (303) 273-3333.