UMPI reopens after bomb threat prompts campus lockdown

By Julia Bayly, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 17, 2011, at 5:02 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The University of Maine at Presque Isle reopened early Thursday evening after a six-hour lockdown prompted by what authorities called a “credible” bomb threat.

Classes will resume on schedule Friday, UMPI spokeswoman Rachel Rice said in an update issued shortly after 7:30 p.m.

A thorough search of campus buildings by personnel from the Presque Police Department and Maine State Police Trooper Shawn Whalen and his bomb-sniffing dog Bailey turned up no bomb or explosives, according to Rice.

Rice said police investigated a person of interest in connection with the incident but that the individual, who was not identified, was cleared of any wrongdoing.

After receiving the bomb threat shortly before 1 p.m., UMPI immediately mobilized its Emergency Response Team, which established a protocol aimed at ensuring the safety of students, staff and faculty, Rice said Thursday.

Campus buildings were evacuated, secured and search, she said.

By 4:30 p.m. six campus buildings, including two dormitories and the campus center, had been cleared and students were allowed to return.

“We immediately called in local law enforcement and sent out the emergency message to the entire campus,” UMPI President Don Zillman said late Thursday afternoon. “They did a fast and thorough inspection of Gentile Hall, and that became the meeting place for folks who did not want to leave campus.”

Zillman would not say how the threat was received.

He said Presque Isle and state police worked with campus safety personnel to continue to clear campus buildings.

“I would guess everything should be fully cleared, and we will be open for regular business and classes tomorrow,” Zillman said.

Christine Standefer, professor of physical education, was in her South Hall office Thursday when she received word to evacuate the building.

“We were all told to go to Gentile Hall,” she said. “They did not say why at first but then they gathered us all together and said there had been a credible bomb threat [and] the campus was closed down.”

While expressing gratitude for the swift action of campus personnel in assuring students and staff were safe, Standefer said the bomb threat — real or hoax — is a major disruption to campus life and academics.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/11/17/news/aroostook/bomb-threat-closes-down-umpi-campus/ printed on August 30, 2014