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Police, campus official give details in weekend arrests

By Angela Yingling
Published On: Apr 29 2013 12:44:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 30 2013 02:48:13 PM CDT
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

For the first time since Saturday's incident, ETSU campus administrators talked about the evacuation and the arrests of four students.

We've learned Saturday's drug bust at East Tennessee State University's Buc Ridge apartments is not the first this year; in fact, there have been 17 busts on campus in 2013, four of them at Buc Ridge.

But when asked if this is part of a larger drug problem on campus, administrators said 'no.'

Some items found inside an apartment during a search after a drug bust took police by surprise. We're told officers, acting with caution, called for the evacuation of building B at Buccaneer Ridge Apartments.

But now police are saying the items found, including fertilizer, propane and a pressure cooker, may have been part of a plan to grow mushrooms.

Chief of police Joe Cotrel says the items found are consistent with growing mushrooms.

Police say while they worked Saturday night to find out what exactly they were dealing with, they believed the incident was contained. They evacuated the building at Buc Ridge, but did not do a campus-wide alert.

When asked if this is part of a larger drug problem on campus, both the chief of police and the vice president of student affairs said 'no.'

Just to clarify something initially reported this weekend, ETSU campus police said suspect Rishi Malhotra would be under FBI and ATF surveillance. However, the police chief clarified Monday there is no investigation by those agencies -- they were simply going to check their databases for any information.