Phoned bomb threats prompt evacuation of office building

April 30, 1996|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,SUN STAFF

Howard County police are investigating a bomb threat that prompted the evacuation of an office building in downtown Columbia yesterday morning while police and a dog searched for explosives.

An anonymous woman called the Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centre at the 3 Lakefront North Building on Sterrett Place at 9 a.m. Monday and said: "There's a bomb in the building and you have 35 minutes to get out," according to the Jenny Craig employee who received the call.

After dialing 911 and notifying the building's management, she left the building, said the employee, who did not want her name disclosed.

As a precaution, the property manager evacuated the building and police placed the building off-limits to workers and the public.

Shortly after 10 a.m., Howard County Deputy Sheriff Ron Esworthy arrived with his dog, Rebel. They searched the open areas of the 15-office building, where the public has access, but found nothing.

Rebel also examined a thermos left on a newspaper box outside the building, but "there was no alert to it," Deputy Esworthy said.

At 10: 30 a.m. the building was reopened to the public. About 10 minutes later, the same Jenny Craig employee received another threatening call. Although police would not confirm that it was the same caller, the employee said it was the same woman with an accent that sounded British.

Jenny Craig later closed. "Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have closed for the day," a note attached to the front door informed visitors.

Cpl. Ken McGlynn, the officer in charge at the scene, said that although police don't have a motive for the bomb threat, "we always take them seriously."

Pub Date: 4/30/96

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