A spate of bomb threat hoaxes were emailed to Great Bend businesses Thursday afternoon, Great Bend Police Chief David Bailey said. The threats were among many made in cities across the nation, including Hutchinson, Wichita, Oklahoma City and New York City.
In Great Bend and Barton County, there were 13 threats made, Bailey said. The senders were asking for Bitcoin payments.
It was a hectic afternoon, Bailey said.
“As of this time no suspicious devices have been found,” Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said. It is further believed the threats have been emailed from Russia.
“We do not believe there is reason for alarm at this time,” Bellendir said. “We just ask that citizens be aware of their surroundings and alert for any suspicious packages.”
The Great Bend Police Department responded to 10 threats made in the city:
• 5523 10th – Sunflower Diversified services
• 1312 Patton Rd. – Sunflower
• 8823 Fourth (near the Great Bend Municipal Airport) – Sunflower
• 8825 Fourth – Sunflower
• 1521 K-96 – Sunflower
• 2200 Main – Rosewood Services
• 1901 Main – Rosewood
• 1607 Main – Rosewood
• 1215 Main Bargain Barn – Rosewood
• 1117 Williams – Rosewood
• 1623 Main Landmark Bank
There were also three locations in the county to which the Barton County Sheriff’s Office responded:
• 4 NW 25 Rd. – Rosewood
• 1171 SW 20 Rd. – Rosewood
• 384 N. Washington – Rosewood
The calls prompted evacuations. Witnesses at the Sunflower airport plant observed orderly but rapid efforts to empty the buildings as the occupants were moved away via buses.
Sunflower Diversified Services Executive Director Jon Prescott said sweeps by law enforcement turned up clean. “It was someone’s idea of a sick joke.”
This was particularly challenging for Sunflower since many of their clients have mobility issues, Prescott said. However, they were all safely taken to their residences.
Sure, these were hoaxes, but Bailey all such calls must be taken seriously. All such incidents have to be treated as if it were real.
The threats involved the GBPD, the BCSO, Barton County Communications, the Kansas Highway Patrol and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
Not much information is available, said Bridget Patton, spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Kansas City field office. She did provide the FBI’s officials statement.
It reads: “we are aware of the recent bomb threats made in cities around the country, and we remain in touch with our law enforcement partners to provide assistance. As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety.”
News reports indicates police in cities nationwide reported threats, some emailed, some phoned in.
A spokesman for the Oklahoma City Police Department said there were 10 to 13 email bomb threats with specific addresses in and around the city. The spokesperson said police were investigating all of the threats but they had not found anything serious so far.
Authorities in New York City were monitoring “multiple bomb threats that have been sent electronically to various locations throughout the city,” the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism bureau said on Twitter.
New York police later said on Twitter that there was an “email being circulated containing a bomb threat asking for bitcoin payment” but that no devices had been found.