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MIT Campus Police seek hearing on charges in Halloween accident

The MIT Campus Police today requested a magistrate's hearing in Cambridge District Court to determine if misdemeanor complaints should be issued against three students and one alumnus in connection with the incident on Tuesday in which one of the students was seriously injured in an MIT classroom. The complaints relate to the illegal possession and use of fireworks and to disturbing the peace. A hearing is scheduled for November 12.

The students were promoting a Halloween party to be given by their fraternity to raise money for the Leukemia Society of America. A device carried by one of them accidentally exploded in his hands.

MIT President Charles M. Vest said, "We regret having to take this action. Phi Kappa Sigma is a fine group of young men. When this accident occurred, they were promoting an event to raise money for the Leukemia Society of America and having a little fun, as college students should.

"Nonetheless, the device that exploded caused injury and damage and endangered others. We have no choice but to hold them responsible. I urge that this decision be viewed in this context. There was no malicious intent. It was an accident, pure and simple."

Campus Police found metal fragments from the device scattered in the vicinity, including one deeply embedded in a wooden doorframe.

In response to the incident, Cambridge and Boston mobilized public safety forces, including the bomb squads from both cities, and the campus and Massachusetts Avenue were disrupted for several hours. A number of MIT buildings had to be evacuated during the investigation.

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