Bomb threat just a scare

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson A Cannon Air Force Base explosive detection dog and his handlers, members of Cannon Security Forces, run away from Bank of America on Prince Street Monday after the dog indicated the possible presence of explosives in the building.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Clovis Police closed down several blocks of Prince Street and evacuated nearby businesses Monday afternoon while investigating what turned out to be a false bomb threat at Bank of America.

Police rerouted traffic through the mall parking lot for about an hour before Cannon Air Force Base Explosive Ordnance personnel determined a suspicious package inside the bank did not contain explosives. The Cannon security force was called in about 3 p.m. after a bomb dog from the base indicated explosives could be present, according to Clovis Police Chief Dan Blair.

Blair explained the dog could have smelled something that had been on someone’s hands when they touched the package, or any number of other things.

“There’s a variety of things (trained dogs) can hit on,” Blair said. “The dog did alert and we have to take that seriously.”
Blair said police were following department protocol.

“It was a bomb threat at a financial institution, and that’s serious,” Blair said.

The police chief said he would not comment on details about the package, including what was in it.

Bank of America was evacuated around 1 p.m. after receiving a bomb threat by telephone, according to police. The caller said a bomb had been delivered to the building, police said.

Taco Bell was one of the businesses evacuated.

“Now I’ve got to go find my employees,” Taco Bell manager Alton Anthony said when police began removing barricades from the area just before 4 p.m.

When police entered the restaurant and told patrons to leave, he said his customers seemed concerned.

“They did seem a little worried,” he said. Anthony said he told everyone everything was going to be OK and they got up and left in an orderly fashion.

“One customer asked for a bag and said, ‘I guess I need to get my food to go,’” Anthony said.

Blair said police have some leads on possible suspects in the hoax and are conducting a full investigation.

Bank officials directed calls for comment to Bank of America’s corporate office. A call to the corporate office was not returned.