2 members of missing African robotics team crossed into Canada, police say

WASHINGTON — The six teen members of a Burundi robotics team that went missing Tuesday night after a D.C. competition appear to have “self-initiated” their disappearance and were missing for hours before police were contacted.

That’s according to a statement released Thursday afternoon by the organization that sponsored the competition.

Two of the six teens crossed into Canada, D.C. police announced Thursday morning. Police confirmed that there was no evidence of foul play.

The robotics team was in D.C. for an international robotics competition sponsored by FIRST Global and were last seen near Constitution Hall around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 18.

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The organizers for the competition said the adult mentor of the team was unable to find the group after the event’s closing ceremony and thought the students might have taken another shuttle bus back to dorm rooms at Trinity Washington University where the teams were staying.

In its statement, FIRST Global said “there were indications that the students’ absence may have been self-initiated,” because the students had removed personal belongings from the dorms and left keys behind.

FIRST Global said organization officials called D.C. police to report the missing students shortly after midnight. Earlier, the organization also contacted a family member of one of the students in the area about the students’ whereabouts.

“Security of the students is of paramount importance to FIRST Global,” the organization said in its statement, citing its chaperone policies. “The chaperone and students are informed that the students are to remain under the close supervision of their adult mentor and chaperone, and are not to leave the premises unaccompanied by the chaperone.”

The organization said it had representatives placed at the dormitories at all times, on-site security at Constitution Hall and provided special transportation to and from the dorms.

D.C. police first announced Wednesday evening that the team had gone missing. Police tweeted out photos and information about the teens. The team was made up of males and two females ranging in age from 16 to 18. According a D.C. police report, the students were in the U.S. on a one-year visa.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact D.C. police.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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