“Everyone evacuate now.”
These three words were spoken with authority and firmness within the Dixon Center a little after 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9, when an unknown caller called in a bomb threat.
Everyone in the building quickly abandoned their workouts and followed instructions as looks of disbelief and questioning were exchanged among students and faculty within the building.
All those who vacated the Dixon Center stood outside looking at the building as public safety and police officers surrounded and entered the site. Talks of a possible bomb threat quickly surfaced among the spectators as they were instructed to distance themselves from the blocked off Dixon Center.
“I was walking over and they said, ‘Don’t come over here. There’s a bomb threat,'” Chima Okere, sophomore business major, said.
The bomb threat was called in to Cabrini’s Public Safety office at 1:03 p.m., who then called police officials. Public safety alerted those in the Dixon Center of the threat and instructed everyone to evacuate.
Officers arriving at the scene arrived from two police departments, including Radnor Township. The building was cleared by 1:26 p.m. Students and faculty became aware of the threat through Cabrini’s emergency text message system.
Cabrini’s Cabinet, consisting of Dr. Jonnie Guerra, Dr. Charles McCormick and Stephen Lightcap, as well as Howard Holden, the director of facilities, were quick to arrive at the scene, even though information was minimal at the time.
Police on the scene said that colleges receive a lower rate of bomb threats compared to high schools. The fact that the threat was called on the Dixon Center, which holds few classes, was also out of the ordinary, according to the police.
“You would think that if someone called in a bomb threat it would be in a building like Founder’s or the SET building, where a lot of classes go on and there’s more people. There are hardly any people in the Dixon Center on a Thursday afternoon,” Bridget Cantwell, junior pre-nursing major, said.
Even though the threat was called in, classes continued on and the campus was not declared to be locked down.
“We don’t want to cause a huge ruckus for nothing,” Officer McFarlane, a police official on the scene, said.
To take further safety precautions, the Dixon House, consisting mostly of sophomore students, was also evacuated.
“I didn’t know much about the evacuation when it happened, just that we had to wait outside until the building was checked for the bomb,” Amanda Corsini, sophomore business major, said. “We had to wait outside for an hour, which then turned into two hours.”
Residents of the Dixon House were given no information as to why they had to stop what they were doing and evacuate, other than talk of a bomb threat.
“People were just talking about how annoyed they were about standing outside,” Corsini said. “I think it is ridiculous that we still have to deal with bomb threats. That’s something I dealt with while in elementary school through high school.”
The person who called in the bomb threat is still unknown, but a formal investigation is being conducted and if someone is charged it will be a state offense.
“When the threat was over, it was decided to still have the bomb dogs go through for all of our safety,” Lillian Burroughs, director of public safety, said. “However, dogs have a procedure as well, so we had to wait one hour after the threat before they could go in. In conclusion, no unusual items were discovered.”
Nothing was found within either buildings. The Dixon Center was scheduled to reopen the next day and students were permitted back into the Dixon House.
“I feel my department and the college community handled this emergency well,” Burroughs said. “The emergency notifications went well and were timely. The e-mails sent for additional information were timely and informative.”
In case of future threats to the college campus, students are strongly encouraged to sign up for the emergency text notification system located on the public safety Web site off of cabrini.edu.