Bomb scare causes office building evacuation

A bomb threat forced the evacuation of the central branch of the New Haven Savings Bank at 195 Church St. Wednesday morning. Other tenants of the building, such as the office of New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas, also vacated the premises.

At roughly 8:30 a.m., the bank received a call from a woman who warned of a terrorist attack on the building, police said. Representatives from the New Haven Police Department and the FBI responded to the threat shortly after and ordered a full evacuation while using bomb-sniffing dogs and other detection devices to secure the building.

“We take these calls very seriously,” said New Haven police spokesman Gary Jenkins. “We immediately evacuated 195 [Church St.]“

Police did not find any explosive device but the potential for danger caused a disturbance for workers and commuters near the prominent New Haven office tower. About 1,000 people in total were evacuated from the bank.

Security checks kept workers out of their offices until about noon, some congregating on the New Haven Green, Jenkins said. Traffic had to be rerouted as police roped off the stretch of Church Street from Chapel to Elm streets and Elm Street from Temple to Orange streets.

“I was pissed,” said a bank employee. “But it was nice to be evacuated rather than them letting us stay in the building. The response time was awesome.”

Another office worker, who also declined to give his name because of company policy, echoed the first man’s frustration.

“It was just inconvenience,” he said. “Obviously, you got work to do, and if you’re out for three hours, it just sits there and you’ve got to bring it home.”

Jenkins said New Haven police are investigating the call with help from federal law enforcement.

In November 2001, a simultaneous bomb threat and anthrax scare forced the evacuation of the state courthouse on the corner of Elm and Church streets. Neither the deadly contaminant nor any explosive devices were found.

Last October, the New Haven Police responded to an anthrax threat at the Connecticut Financial Center on Church Street. Police also investigated a report of white powder discovered on an office wall in the same building.

–Brendan Kearney

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