Friday, October 3, 2008

Another one - Union Street by HSU closed due to bomb threat

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2008 at 4:31 PM

lockdown at 14th and Union

lock down at 14th and Union

A portion of the Humboldt State University campus is in lock-down mode today due to the second bomb threat is the space of 10 days. According to Sergeant Dave Brown of the Arcata Police, speaking just after 3 p.m., University Police located a suspicious device somewhere in the vicinity of the HSU Gym and the BSS building and were preparing to detonate it as they did with the faux bomb found last week . An explosion heard by this reporter at 3:15 indicates that the device has likely been destroyed. According to HSU the grand opening and dedication of the new gym has not been canceled by the incident.

5 p.m. Update: According to HSU infomation officer Paul Mann, the device was discovered near the front of the BSS Building during a routine perimeter check at around 12:45 p.m. -- just a little while before Lt. Gov. John Garamendi was scheduled to meet with the public in advance of the dedication of the new Kinesiology and Athletics Building. It appeared to be similar to the fake bomb found found last week, although it is still uncertain whether this one contained any gunpowder or other explosives. The HSU Police and the HumCo Sheriff's bomb detail are investigating possible connections between the two incidents.

Saturday update : According to Sergeant Dave Brown the "alleged pipe bomb" destroyed by authorities on Friday was not a faux bomb after all. It was a cardboard tube that contained an artist's paintbrushes.

Another update: Campus authorities are now saying the mystery tube was a container for a contractor's tools.

The latest (Oct. 7) version from HSU:

Second Bomb Hoax Termed ‘Accidental’

Arcata – The October 3 pipe bomb hoax that disrupted a corner of the Humboldt State University was an accidental occurrence, but investigation of the September 23 hoax continues, according to the University Police Department.

Witness statements and physical evidence examination positively linked the double-capped, 18-inch length of black plastic two-inch diameter pipe to a flooring contractor who had been working in the north Union Street neighborhood on Friday.

The unmarked pipe, configured by the contractor to carry and protect equipment, had fallen from the back of a van being driven south in the 1500 block of Union Street at about mid-day October 3. Unaware the pipe was missing, the driver left the area and a second motorist discovered it moments later while parking. The motorist placed the unattended pipe on the sidewalk in front of the Forum that adjoins the Behavioral and Social Sciences Building, assuming the owner might retrieve it.

Unwittingly, the motorist had placed the pipe in the immediate area where California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi was scheduled to meet shortly with members of the campus community and the public.

When a civilian discovered the pipe and reported it to UPD , the motorist was already gone and responding officers had no information to follow. As a precaution, police cordoned off the area, evacuated people within the perimeter and summoned the Humboldt County Sheriff Department’s bomb unit to break the pipe open with a disintegrating projectile. The cordon was lifted when the pipe’s contents were found to be non-explosive.

UPD credited press coverage for prompting citizens to come forward with information regarding Friday’s incident. No criminal charges will be sought against anyone involved, according to UPD Chief Thomas Dewey.

Police continue their investigation of a September 23 pipe bomb hoax involving a double-capped, 12-inch piece of galvanized pipe found in the landscaping near the HSU Library parking lot. Police say that hoax is unrelated to Friday’s incident and investigators continue to seek information about who planted the first device.

An earlier version of the story:

Police Probe Second Campus Bomb Hoax

Oct. 3, 5:53 p.m.

Arcata – Investigators are seeking clues to a suspect length of pipe with end caps found October 3 in front of a Humboldt State University building about 45 minutes before California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi was scheduled to lead a listening session there with students, faculty and staff.

Authorities are probing the device and its contents, which were not deemed to be dangerously explosive. It is too early to say if the latest incident has any connection with the September 23 bomb hoax in the HSU Library parking lot. No specific threats were made in either incident. Both suspect pipes were reported to the University Police Department by different bystanders, who were identified and interviewed.

"There are currently no known suspects or specific ‘persons of interest’ at this time," said UPD Chief Thomas Dewey. "There is a lot of investigative work to do," he added.

Black and about 12 to 14 inches long, the second device was directly in front of the campus Forum, which adjoins the Behavioral and Social Sciences Building. The pipe was lying on the edge of the sidewalk, next to the right rear tire of a pickup truck parked by the curb.

Police sealed off the 17th & Union Street vicinity in front of the buildings and Garamendi’s listening session was moved elsewhere on campus. Police subsequently evacuated the Behavioral and Social Sciences Building and swept the interior. Nothing was found.

Authorities also carried out a perimeter search and sweep of the new Kinesiology & Athletics Complex, where 4:00 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremonies with Garamendi and HSU President Rollin Richmond proceeded without incident.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad deployed a disintegrating projectile at about 3:15 p.m. to break open the device. UPD evidence technicians are analyzing the fragments and contents for clues.

The Union Street area and the BSSB /Forum reopened at about 4:15 p.m.

UPD asks the public to share any information by dialing UPD at (707) 826-5555 or submitting an anonymous email to

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Bob Doran

Bob Doran

Freelance photographer and writer, Arts and Entertainment editor from 1997 to 2013.

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