FAIRFIELD, Maine — A bomb threat that forced the evacuation of Kennebec Valley Community College on Tuesday morning turned out to be a hoax, according to police.
The threat was reported to the Fairfield Police Department at 9:12 a.m. Tuesday. Officers with two bomb-sniffing dogs searched the college.
Fairfield Interim Police Chief Joseph Massey later said the word “bomb” was written in a women’s bathroom in Carter Hall.
“At approximately 9 a.m. this morning, a student discovered in a downstairs bathroom of Carter Hall, that the word ‘bomb’ had been written inside a bathroom stall,” said Massey. “She alerted faculty here. The call came into us at the Fairfield Police Department. The faculty and staff evacuated the building.”
KVCC’s website stated in the morning and early afternoon that the campus is in an emergency situation, but it reopened for evening classes at 5 p.m.
The word “bomb” was written in marker on the wall of a stall.
“There’s just that one word,” said Massey. “There’s no other indication of anything else. As soon as the dogs clear, we’ll process the bathroom as we normally would for fingerprints and photographs, those types of things, and then start the investigation.”
The campus was turned back over to KVCC staff shortly after noontime, said Massey on Tuesday afternoon.
“We didn’t discover any explosives or anything remotely looking like a bomb,” he said.
Massey said an investigation has started into who left the note that triggered the school to evacuate.
“We’re going to start an investigation and try to develop a suspect,” he said. “In a lot of cases, these are done as a joke, but it invokes a big response. If we can hold someone responsible, we will certainly do that and try to recoup the [financial] losses for the emergency personnel and school.”
A response such as the one at KVCC on Tuesday, which included Fairfield police and fire departments and Maine State Police, could cost thousands of dollars, he said.
“It always is a big operation, particularly, if it’s done on a campus of this size with the number of buildings,” said Massey. “When either someone calls in a hoax at a local school or a college or some other large facility, it immobilizes a lot of public safety personnel — police, fire, ambulances, staff from campus itself. It is a major operation.
“As you can see, we have trucks tied up, firetrucks. We have police officers, we have state troopers here,” he added. “My sense, when you add all this up, it certainly would be in the thousands of dollars, no question about that.”
Massey said whoever wrote the note could be facing multiple charges.
“They should certainly face causing a public false alarm, there’s no question about that. Again, we’ll see how that unfolds as we move forward in the investigation,” he said.
John Delile, chief executive officer for the college, said about 600 students and more than 100 faculty and staff are typically on campus on a Tuesday. He said he thought the evacuation was done in an orderly fashion.
“We have a protocol in place that was followed,” said Delile. “We’re all here following our plan and working closely with local officials. It’s an important part of our plan.”
The incident comes one month after a bomb threat was called in to Southern Maine Community College, resulting in the evacuation of its three campuses in South Portland, Bath and Brunswick. The evacuation, which caused traffic tie-ups as people left the main campus in South Portland, prompted a review of the school’s emergency protocols.