Bomb threat empties MCLA campus

Posted at: 04/25/2013 11:34 PM
By: Dan Levy

NORTH ADAMS, MA - There's never a good time for a bomb threat but the lingering uneasiness after the Boston bombings made the situation at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts even scarier Thursday night.

Whether students were sitting inside their classrooms or hanging around their dorms, when a threatening message was found late Thursday, everyone was ordered off campus.

It was a real life emergency drill that city and college officials plan for, police and fire personnel train for, and absolutely no one -- especially in this day and age -- has any tolerance for.

"We could have had upwards of 1,200 students on campus and probably another 200 faculty and staff," said James Stakenas, Vice President of Administration & Finance at the school. "It's hard not to take this seriously."

It was in that scholarly setting where someone walked into Murdoch Hall and taped a message to the wall threatening there was a bomb on campus.

"It was a handwritten note on a piece of lined paper," said North Adams Police Director Michael Cozzaglio. "The note itself was found at around 3:30 but we don't know how long it had been there. We're hoping a short period of time which narrows our window to look into this."

Within fifteen minutes after discovery of the note, college and police officials decided to evacuate the entire campus.

"Even if the events in Boston hadn't happened, I would rather be safe then be sorry in this instance," said sophomore Meg Gugarty. "I think, especially because of Boston, (Who ever did this) is a scum bag. Whether it was serious or not, it's just no an OK thing to do."

Students and staff were sent to a nearby armory while state police and firefighters scanned buildings and parking lots. At about six o'clock, the all-clear sounded, normalcy restored, but tenseness remained.

"I'm from around the Boston area and what happened last week hit really close to home," said sophomore Matt Hotaling, "But to be hit here in the boonies, is a little bit of a shock."

"Because we're a small city doesn't make us immune from violence," said North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, "It doesn't make us immune from people who are crazy enough to carry some of these things out."

Police are hoping the campus surveillance camera picked up something, but that's just part of the investigation.

"We've begun to interview people that may have seen suspicious activity in regards to movement throughout the Murdock Hall," Cozzaglio said.

"I think that as you go along after the Boston scare, you're going to see more scares like this from copy cats," theorized freshman Ben Hoyt, "People will be trying to take advantage of the situation."

"It's really mean, hurtful, and scary," Hotaling asserted. "He created a lot of panic."

As of 11:00 P.M. Thursday night, police had no one in custody.