Bomb-threat sweep turns up nothing

The Washington State Patrol came to the South Puget Sound Community College on May 1, with a bomb-disposal unit to search the campus after getting a call about a bomb threat that day.

The call came in at 1:30 p.m. to the Olympia Police Department (OPD).

OPD Public Information Officer Laura Wohl said the threat came from an untraceable cell phone. Wohl said the caller was very vague, not stating much other than there was a bomb at SPSCC.

No more than 15 minutes later, the State Patrol arrived with the bomb squad and a canine unit.

Text messages were quickly sent to students signed up with the e2campus alert system, notifying them of the bomb threat.

E2campus alerts are optional and free to enroll on the college website. School officials use the system to alert the campus to emergencies and school closures.

Director of Security Lonnie Hatman sent out the May 1 bomb threat messages, with the final message of three reading, “Security sweep turned up nothing unusual. Security asks everyone stay aware.” The first message was sent almost an hour after the police had arrived at the school.

The OPD asked the school administration about any similar incidents happening recently on campus or students expressing threatening anger.

Wohl said the investigation stalled after no leads were found. With no leads, police have no reason to believe any bomb threats will be happening again soon, she said.

Dean of College Relations Kellie Braseth acts as the Public Information Officer in an emergency situation such as this. Braseth said she is responsible for communicating with the public what she feels they need to know for an emergency.

Braseth sent out emails to all faculty and staff giving them the details of the situation. She said campus security was increasing its patrol that day and asked teachers to be vigilant and call.

Upon arriving, the police screened the whole school including outside common spaces and parking lots, Braseth said. The police found nothing unusual in their security sweep, but security still asks everyone to be aware.

Braseth said security would be prepared for a situation if a bomb was found, and would immediately secure and evacuate the area and call the authorities.

“We would have used all mass-communication resources at our disposal” to let students and faculty know if a bomb was found, Braseth said.

This would include Reach Plus which puts messages on campus computer screens, and it would include group paging which turns campus telephones to intercoms. The school’s evacuation coordinator system would make announcements floor to floor within buildings. Security would also look for anyone who might have missed all these communication methods.