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Hoax ignites bomb scare at Turlock daycare

Hoax ignites bomb scare at Turlock daycare

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's department bomb squad robot wheels toward a suspicious package outside a Turlock daycare that a caller identified as a bomb.


POSTED November 9, 2009 4:56 p.m.
A Turlock daycare center was evacuated Monday morning after a caller reportedly said he left a bomb outside the facility in the bushes.
The device turned out to be a fake, but The Turlock Police Department is investigating several real leads to catch the culprit.
“This was definitely planned out and set up to look like an explosive device,” said Turlock Police Sgt. Nino Amirfar.
At 10:30 a.m. the TLC Education Facility at 1620 Colorado Ave., received a call from a man stating he had left a bomb outside the daycare and they should leave immediately. The caller said: “I’m sorry but I put a bomb outside your school in the alley way. I’m regretting this.”
Anitra Wall, the facility manager at the daycare, said the caller “sounded calm, but concerned.”
“He said he was ‘very sorry’ and ‘you need to get out now,’” Wall said.
The daycare immediately called 911 and started the process of evacuating the 43 children and eight to 10 staff members to nearby Dutcher Junior High School.
Within five minutes of the 911 call the Turlock Police Department had arrived at the scene and located the suspicious package. It was about the size of a bread loaf and was found wrapped in gray tape, tucked into some bushes at the edge of the daycare property, Turlock Police Sgt. Douglas Ravaglioli said.
The device was about 30 feet from the daycare.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad responded to the incident and used a remote controlled robot to move the package to an empty lot behind the daycare. The robot placed the package into a hole previously dug out by the bomb squad and used a gunpowder charge to shoot a blast of high pressure water into the device. It turned out the gunpowder was the only thing to explode.
“The bomb squad has confirmed that there was no explosive device in the package,” Amirfar said after the bomb squad examined the remains of the package.
Amirfar said someone took the time to make the package look like a legitimate bomb, including attaching something that appeared to be a detonation device.
Wall was at a loss trying to figure out why someone would target the daycare.
“We’ve been racking our brains trying to figure out who would do this,” Wall said. “I can’t believe someone would do something like this, especially with children in the building.”
Wall said they’ve only had very minor problems related to custody issues and that they had all been settled by the parents. The daycare has been the target of several break-ins, most recently on Thursday when someone siphoned gas from one of the center’s vans, Wall said.
As a security measure, the facility installed multiple surveillance cameras in and outside the building. Through remote access, Wall said they had been able to review the footage and may have captured the suspect on film.
The camera recorded a sports utility vehicle pull up to the curb outside of the daycare around 5 a.m. and shows a man getting out on the passenger side. The man is seen moving towards the bushes where the device was eventually found and then returning to the vehicle, Wall said.
Investigators were also using the daycare center’s caller id system to identify the suspect. Wall said the woman who took the call said a name and a local number appeared on the caller id, but that the worker did not recognize either of them.
“The caller did admit to leaving a bomb,” Wall said.
The children, all between the ages of 2 years old to 6 years old, were all safe and in good spirits, Wall said.
“They’re all doing great,” she said. “This is a fun day for them because they got to go some where.”
The school notified all the parents and the majority of the children had been picked up by noon, Wall said. She believed the daycare would remain closed for the rest of the day.
The daycare was the only building to be evacuated. People at the medical and dental complex next door were told to stay inside and the residents of Las Palmas Estates, a senior care facility, were moved to the back of the building and kept inside. Officers phoned and knocked at the house next to the daycare facility, but got no answer.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Turlock Police Department at 668-5550.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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