Bomb Scare Empties Downtown Buildings

by Thomas MacMillan | August 26, 2009 3:19 PM | | Comments (2)

082609_Kampfs.jpg(Updated 4:43 p.m.) Merrill Lynch Vice President Andy Kampf’s investment portfolio review was going well, until a voice came over the loudspeaker and ordered everyone out of the building.

Kampf and his son Josh Kampf were two of scores of employees who were ordered to evacuate their offices due to an afternoon bomb threat downtown.

082609_Bomb.jpgCity Hall and two office buildings were evacuated following a bomb scare at 2:07 p.m. today, police said. An anonymous person called city police threatening to blow up the United Illuminating Company. The call was made from a payphone on Whalley Avenue, police said.

Police evacuated two buildings that UI occupies, 129 and 157 Church St. Because City Hall is next door, City Hall was cleared out, too.

By 4:30 p.m. a bomb squad sweep had found no bombs and workers were cleared to re-enter the buildings.

Just past 3 p.m., top downtown cop Lt. Rebecca Sweeney was standing in front of the Bank of America, supervising the scene. She said that the bomb squad was already at work inside the buildings and that the area should be cleared for re-entry within a half hour.

With their work-day interrupted, workers had moved to a safe distance away from the buildings. On Church Street, workers stood on the Green. Some sat in plastic folding chairs left over from the day’s Blues Berry Jam music performance.

082609_UIEmpl.jpgOn the other side of the buildings, on Orange Street, UI workers were assembled on a street corner. UI safety volunteers wearing bright red vests were armed with clipboards. John Albini (at right in photo), who works in client services, said that he had done a sweep of his floor before leaving the building, checking off names to make sure everyone was accounted for.

“It was pretty frightening,” said Michelle Lemoine (at left in photo), who also works in client services. She said that this evacuation was different from past bomb scares or fire drills. In addition to the automated evacuation warnings that came over the buildings intercom, a fire fighter’s voice had came on. “He said, ‘Get out of the building now’” Lemoine said.

Lemoine grabbed her stuff and left the building. She didn’t welcome the unexpected break. It’s the end of the month, and she has a lot of projects due, she said.

On the other side of the building, father and son Merril Lynch employees were standing by the entrance to the green. Unlike Lemoine, Assistant Vice President Josh Kampf said that he hadn’t been frightened by the evacuation order. “It happens all too often to get panicked,” he said.

Josh and his father, Senior Vice President of Investments Andy Kampf, said that there have been three evacuation orders so far this summer, including another bomb scare in May.

Andy Kampf said that he had been in a meeting with clients when the order to leave was announced. He said he was going over their investments. “Their portfolios are looking pretty good,” he said.

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Posted by: fingers | August 26, 2009 10:10 PM

Cops will be dusting quarters tonight.

Posted by: lu | August 28, 2009 7:50 PM

129 church was not evacuated.

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