DETROIT – There were four bomb threats reported Tuesday in the Detroit area prompting evacuations at businesses and schools.
None of the threats were credible, police said. However, evacuations were ordered as a precaution as police swept the buildings.
The first bomb threat was made about 9:30 a.m. at the Daybreak Salon and Spa in Woodhaven. Police had to evacuated the spa and all of the other businesses in the strip mall at West and Allen roads. No threat was found. Police are trying to figure out who made the threat.
The second and third threats both were reported about 11 a.m. Tuesday at two Head Start school programs on Detroit's east side. The Mt. Calvary United Children and Family Head Start program on Chalmers Street and the Mt. Zion Head Start on East McNichols Road were evacuated. Police did not find a threat at either location.
A fourth bomb threat was made Tuesday afternoon at the University of Detroit Mercy. According to the school, a one-page fax was received of a threatening nature. The engineering building was evacuated briefly until the all-clear was given for students and faculty to return.
It's unclear if any of these bomb threats are related. The FBI is investigating the bomb threats made in the city of Detroit.
"According to the FBI, this is a national threat occurring across the country," Detroit police Cmdr. Elvin Barren said.
Police said they used plenty of time and resources to make sure none of the threats were legitimate risks. They were all sent in via fax.
"A threat came in via fax machine that stated to the property managers that the facilities were rigged with explosives," Barren said. "If they did not pay a $25,000 ransom by way of a Western Union account, then both facilities would explode."
The FBI told Detroit police the scheme has been happening across the country, with the same faxed threats.
The FBI released the following statement:
"We are aware of recent bomb threats and we remain in touch with our law enforcement partners to provide assistance if needed. As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety."
No arrests have been reported.
Threat makers can face felony, terrorism charges
Under the Michigan Penal Code, it is a felony to make such a threat. A first offense can land a person in prison for four years with a $2,000 fine. A second offense can mean 10 years in prison with a $5,000.
The Penal Code explains:
When a bomb threat is issued to a school, each instance must be checked for credibility. Sometimes this involves staff surveying the building for suspicious-looking objects, but more often it means evacuating the school and calling in the police and, sometimes, bomb-sniffing dogs, to search for explosives or harmful substances. In the case of an evacuation, students lose instructional time, and school districts and police departments lose money transporting students and investigating the crime.
In April 2014, an 18-year-old Farmington High School student was charged with making a bomb threat at his school. He was charged with making a false report or threat of terrorism, a felony punishable by 20 years in prison, for allegedly calling the Farmington Hills Police Department on April 21, 2014 with the threat.
As a precaution, police swept the high school with a bomb-sniffing dog, checked backpacks and had extra patrols that day.
In January 2015, a 15-year-old Northville High School student was charged in connection with a bomb threat at the school. The student faced felony charges of false terroristic threats and making a false report of a bomb threat.