Bomb scare at College Fair

David J. Hawkins.

Santa Monica Police Officer Adam Barry instructs the police dog to inspect the trash can during a bomb scare on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at Santa Monica College main campus.

Alex Vejar

A bomb threat at Santa Monica College Tuesday afternoon forced more than a thousand students gathered for the College Fair to evacuate the quad.

After a bomb-sniffing dog, provided by the Santa Monica Police Department, canvassed the area, officials re-opened the quad and informed students that the threat was clear.

The source of the threat is still unknown and under investigation.

“In light of the recent events, we had to take precautionary measures and make sure we had cleared out the quad,” said Sgt. Jere Romano of the Santa Monica College Police Department. “That’s where the target was; it was a bomb in the quad.

A note, which was found in the women’s bathroom in the library, was specific to the time and place of the threat, said Albert Vasquez, SMCPD chief. There will be an ongoing investigation going forward.

Romano said the note was discovered by a student.

Some students were under the impression that the entire campus was being evacuated when word started to spread about the bomb threat. However, that was not the case.

“People are going to spread their own message, but it was an isolated incident to the quad, which is why we cleared the quad out,” said Mike Tuitasi, vice president for student affairs.

Students were informed by SMC through email, phone call and text message, and they were evacuated from the area after campus police were called on scene. As the threat was being investigated, students were directed to the left or right of the quad and not allowed straight through.

In addition to the clearing of the quad, nearby portions of the Humanities and Social Sciences building were also evacuated, Vasquez said.

“The fact that we had the university College Fair going on made us an ideal target,” Romano said.

Daniel Nannini, transfer center faculty leader for SMC, was involved with organizing the College Fair on campus Tuesday, which was interrupted by the threat.

“This is one time I’m glad to say the College Fair did not end with a bang,” Nannini said.

Nannini said that classes were not cancelled, but students were allowed to leave their classes by their instructors in droves.

This threat came just over a week after the tragic bombing during the Boston Marathon that left three dead and over 180 injured.

“It’s a little bit scary as well, because last week we experienced that awful bomb in Boston where lots of people got injured and three people died,” said Mahsa Sadreameli, SMC student and employee at the Cayton Center.

Romano said he does not want students testing the police now that there is a heightened alert for bomb threats.

“Just because we’re sensitive to this issue right now, I don’t want people leaving backpacks unattended going, ‘let’s see what they do next,'” Romano said.

Amber Antonopoulos, Elizabeth Moss, Henry Crumblish, Amy Gaskin and Rona Navales contributed to this report.

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