FACT CHECK: Did Troops Arrest Five People For Allegedly Manufacturing Ricin At Utah State University?

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

A video shared on Instagram purports U.S. Army helicopters carrying troops in hazmat suits landed on Utah State University, where five people were allegedly arrested for manufacturing ricin.

Verdict: False

The claim is false. The helicopters landed on the campus as part of an Army ROTC Aviation Day event, according to an event listing published on the university’s online calendar.

Fact Check:

The U.S. Army is investigating two metal canisters found Tuesday at Fort Totten Park in Washington, D.C., according to Fox News. A park employee found the canisters, which may be an “unexploded ordnance,” local outlet Fox 5 DC reported.

The speaker in the Instagram video purports U.S. Army helicopters landed on Utah State University’s campus on Apr. 11, and troops wearing hazmat suits allegedly arrested five individuals accused of manufacturing ricin. The speaker claims the five individuals purportedly sent the ricin to “prominent conservative political figures across the country.” The video has received over 4,000 likes at the time of publication.

The claim is false. Check Your Fact found no credible news reports indicating such an incident occurred on the university’s campus. Likewise, the claim neither appears on the U.S. Army’s website nor its verified social media accounts. In addition, Utah State University has not publicly addressed the claim.

The helicopters landed on the campus as part of an Army ROTC Aviation Day event, according to a listing published on the university’s online calendar. (RELATED: Were Nine Soldiers Killed In A Training Accident While On A Mission To Rescue Children In Illinois?)

“Ever seen a military helicopter up close? Now is your chance! Come celebrate Army ROTC Aviation Day on the Quad, on Tue April 11th, 1:30 to 4:30pm. One UH-72a Lakota Helicopter will land on the quad for students, faculty, and staff to tour and photograph. Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters will be landing and taking off from the quad, giving ROTC cadets flights around Cache Valley,” the online event listing reads.

Major Shane Sorensen, head of the university’s Military Science department, told Lead Stories the purpose of the event was to provide cadets more exposure to the Army Aviation Branch.

“The purpose of this event was to give our cadets an opportunity to become more exposed to the Army Aviation Branch, which is an extremely competitive Army occupation,” Sorensen explained to the outlet. “It was also our intent to use this event as a recruiting and retention tool. Giving our cadets, as well as the USU student body, an opportunity to see the helicopters and ask the aircrew questions that you might not be able to ask or experience in any other setting,” he said.

Check Your Fact has also contacted Sorensen for comment and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter