SAN JOSE -- Police said a "hoax device" caused evacuations and distracted students at San Jose State University during its second week of classes on Thursday.

A student spotted a book-sized package with wires sticking out of it near Tower Hall around 3:25 p.m., according to university police Capt. Alan Cavallo.

The San Jose Police Department's bomb unit was summoned, and Morris Dailey Auditorium was evacuated along with Tower Hall, where university President Mohammad Qayoumi's office is located.

Paths leading through the area were cordoned off with police tape.

After the bomb squad examined the device with a robot, it was destroyed around 6 p.m. using a blasting cap and water to "disrupt it," according to Capt. Ralph Padilla of the fire department's hazardous materials unit.

Students were allowed back into the area about 20 minutes later.

Student Jonathan Ellis said he was outside and not far from the scene when he heard a loud bang.

"People were startled," said Ellis. "We didn't hear a warning."

Cavallo said they do not have any immediate information about who might have placed the device on campus, or what the motive may have been.

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.