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Vandals may have caused millions in damage at engineering lab

GOLDEN, Colo. - Two vandals may have caused "millions of dollars" in damage when they allegedly broke into a lab at a Colorado university and left chemical safety showers running overnight, reports CBS Denver.

The two men were caught on surveillance video at around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 4, inside the Colorado School of Mines General Research Laboratory, a hub for advanced engineering and applied science experimentation. The building has security card scanners and it's unclear how the suspects gained entry.

School officials told the station that two people were being interviewed Monday night about the incident. But police are not saying if they're the suspects who somehow got into the secured-access building.

Surveillance video shows the pair trying to open laboratory doors, before allegedly turning on chemical safety showers.

Water poured through the three-story building, according to campus police. It took nine hours before the problem was discovered.

"It was running all night, so there was significant water damage," said Peter Han, Vice President of External Relations for the School of Mines. "It's all scientific and engineering research projects so obviously the instrumentation is pretty advanced and so pretty expensive."

One researcher, who asked to remain anonymous, told CBS Denver that his lab was hit the hardest.

"It's not just a simple act of leaving a water fountain on. They've damaged millions of dollars worth of research and equipment and facilities," said the researcher.

At this point it doesn't appear any items were stolen, but the researcher said potentially irreplaceable work was put at risk.

"My whole career, you know, is based on the research that's going on on this campus," he said. "So the first thing is, is the data safe? What have we lost?"

Two men claiming to be the suspects allegedly turned themselves in Monday, reports CBS Denver.

Campus police interviewed the men -- whose identities have not been released by authorities -- but are still investigating and are not yet calling them suspects. However, Han said authorities are not looking for any other persons of interest in this case.

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