ENMU campus evacuated after receiving bomb threat

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

The Eastern New Mexico University campus was evacuated Friday morning after the Portales Police Department dispatcher received a bomb threat, according to school officials. After a three-hour search with nothing suspicious found, the campus was re-opened around 1 p.m.

Campus police and resident hall assistants evacuated faculty and students from the campus after receiving a threat from an anonymous person at 10 a.m.

“We’re in the process of evacuating the university and conducting room to room searches,” Chambers said shortly after 11 a.m. “Dispatch received a call that a bomb was going to go off at noon. We wanted to evacuate the campus as soon as possible.”

As of Friday afternoon, Sgt. Jerry Varnell of the ENMU police department said there had not been any arrests made but they were investigating leads. Other law enforcement agencies from Portales helped with the search.

“I’m real satisfied with the work of all of the officers,” Varnell said. “My main concern was to get everyone evacuated and conduct the search. We were able to conduct the search by 1 p.m. All agencies worked together and everything ran smoothly.”

Sisters Nicole Castaneda and Tasha Castaneda, both ENMU freshman, were under the impression that there were no more classes for the day. The sisters were already planning on traveling back to Levelland, Texas, to be with family members for the weekend.

Nicole Castaneda said she wasn’t necessarily scared when she was told about the bomb threat.

Vanessa Avila, an ENMU freshman, called her friends who were living in the dorms to tell them to evacuate the buildings. Avila was in a classroom when she got the news about the bomb threat.

“We were about to get out of class when somebody came in saying there was a bomb threat,” freshman Terrance Orgain said while waiting outside of Eddy Hall. “I’ll just try to find some people to hang out with until the searches get done.”

It is the second bomb threat ENMU has received in the last 18 months.

Chambers said a bomb threat in May of 2004 was different because it isolated a particular spot in the parking lot of the Campus Union Building, making a complete evacuation of the campus and search unnecessary.

Police officers searched a vehicle and found no bomb during the 2004 incident.