CBC campuses to reopen Friday after bomb threat

Tri-City HeraldJuly 18, 2013 

— Both of Columbia Basin College’s campuses were evacuated Thursday after several bomb threats were made by an unidentified suspect.

Police found no explosive devices after thoroughly searching the Pasco and Richland campuses for most of the day, said Pasco Capt. Jim Raymond.

The school announced Thursday evening that the campuses would reopen Friday.

The threats were called in around 11:23 a.m. from different locations on one of the campuses, which Raymond declined to identify.

The calls — which officials determined to be “reasonably credible” — were made by the same person and targeted at least one building on the campuses, officials said. Police didn’t release any details about the calls other than that they were “short.”

Police also didn’t say if one of the campuses in particular was targeted. The Pasco campus is at 2600 N. 20th Ave., and CBC also has the Chase Center at 1600 N. 20th Ave. in Pasco and the Health Science Center at 891 Northgate Drive in Richland.

One of the threats said a bomb was set to go off around an hour and a half after the call was placed, said CBC President Richard Cummins. Police were following up on leads Thursday, though no suspect had been arrested.

“(We) are trying to track down who the caller is,” Raymond said. “We are making progress on that.”

School officials set up a command center shortly after the calls came in and decided to evacuate everyone. Faculty helped notify students, and emails and text messages were sent out.

“We decided there’s no price for safety so we evacuated the campus,” Cummins said.

Police cars blocked off every entrance to the school as ambulances and fire trucks arrived. Both campuses were shut down for the night.

The Richland bomb squad was notified about the threats and were on “standby” in case any devices were found, Raymond said.

Students and staff said there as no panic on campus, though they were surprised by the threats.

Luke Fraley was in biology class in Pasco when his professor made the announcement. Students were calm as they left, he said.

“It was not as rushed as you would think,” Fraley said. “For the most part it was pretty organized.”

Patty Wallace, who works at the Hawk Nest cafeteria, got the news around 12 p.m. and immediately ushered students from the facility.

“We take these things seriously,” she said. “It might be a hoax, but we don’t know. We just got everybody out.” About 3,000 students are on campus at any time during the summer session, but there’s no way to tell how many were on campus Thursday, Cummins said.

Cummins is proud of the way his staff and students handled the threat, he said. Staff are routinely trained for incidents like shootings or bomb threats.

“We know what we had do,” he said.

CBC had a shooting scare in 2008 and also a bomb threat during finals in the past, Cummins said.

Student Brett Bowen was just outside the HUB student center on the Pasco campus when he received a text message about the threats, he said. He has received “test messages” from the school on his phone before, but when he looked at the message he knew it was not a test.

“To actually see the message say ‘an emergency has been reported’ was surprising,” Bowen said, showing the message to a reporter.

Police were done searching both campuses by 6 p.m.

Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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