Charges: Gas-soaked towels left near Coffman Union fireplace

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A Minneapolis man is facing criminal charges for leaving a bundle of flares wrapped in gasoline-soaked towels near a fireplace at Coffman Memorial Union on the University of Minnesota campus. Jason Robert Johnson, 35, is charged with terroristic threats and possession of an explosive or incendiary device.

Employee smelled gas

The suspicious bag was reported at 11:19 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9 by an employee who noticed the smell of gasoline near a fireplace. A police perimeter was established and a K9 unit, with the help of the FBI and ATF, conducted a sweep of the building. In addition to the gas-soaked towels, the bag contained 14 smoke flares, gloves and a lighter.

Coffman Union remained closed on Monday, Aug. 10 as the investigation continued.

Surveillance video

A review of surveillance video shows Johnson leaving the bag near the fireplace shortly before noon that Sunday. A police officer who had prior contact with Johnson gave him a call on the phone before he was located and taken into custody.

Johnson has a criminal history that includes multiple burglary convictions.