an stages public suicide using cyanide gas Man Stages Public Suicide


Staff member
Jun 3, 2003
A man inhaled potassium cyanide and dropped dead on the walkway of a Fremont biotechnology firm Friday, prompting hazardous materials specialists to evacuate the premises while they searched for a missing vial of the highly poisonous chemical.

The dead man, a 29-year-old instrument research engineer at Ciphergen Biosystems, wrote a suicide note early Friday before apparently walking outside and mixing the cyanide with acid to create a deadly gas, said Fremont police Sgt. Jeff Swadener.

The man, whose name was not released, apparently inhaled the gas, tossed the vial near a garbage bin and staggered about 30 yards to the walkway, where another employee found him at 6:20 a.m. near one of the building's entrances, Swadener said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Some 50 employees inside the Dumbarton Circle firm were evacuated. Another 125 people who had not yet arrived were told to stay home for fear that cyanide fumes could still be wafting in the air, Swadener said.

A Fremont fire department hazardous materials team found the missing 25- gram vial of cyanide and the acid next to the garbage bin at about noon. The body was removed later in the afternoon, according to Swadener. Specialists from the Newark and Alameda County fire departments were called to assist.

Swadener said the suicide note found at the deceased employee's work cubicle described what he planned to do and offered an apology before detailing what should be done with his personal effects.

Ciphergen Biosystems, which manufactures protein tissue research systems and services, has been located in Fremont for about four years.