Plague Scare Resolved Quickly - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/15/03

Plague Scare Resolved Quickly

"A multi-agency task force was developed in literally an hour," said Lubbock Police Chief Claude Jones.

Wednesday, authorities held an afternoon press conference outlining emergency procedures activated after Texas Tech reported missing vials of a deadly substance.

"It wasn't clear when the vials went missing," said the Dean of Texas Tech Medical School, Dr. Richard Homan. He was first notified of the missing vials Tuesday afternoon. "I became aware of the situation around 3:30 yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon," he said.

After an extensive internal investigation yielded nothing, as evening approached university officials asked for outside help.

"As I understand it, it was reported last night (Tuesday) to the police by the doctor from the university and then we proceeded with the investigation," said FBI Special Agent Lupe Gonzales.

Local authorities combined forces with nine state and federal agencies.

"Most of our agencies started assembling around 8:30 last night (Tuesday)," said Chief Jones.

The task force worked around the clock. "In fact, it was tested well into the night last night (Tuesday) on both the public health issue and the justice front," said Texas Tech Chancellor David Smith.

By 11:30 in the morning the news broke on television.

Within minutes, Lubbock was in the spotlight on the national media. "The information I have now is that they're not even sure that the vials are missing," said NBC Medical Correspondent Robert Bazell.

At 1:45, city, state, and federal officials held a press conference. The vials were found. The public was safe.

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