Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
A search of the Havre Kmart Wednesday following a bomb threat that closed the store for three hours found nothing in the store, Hill County Sheriff Greg Szudera said. “Thankfully nothing was found or any kind of mishap occurred,” Szudera said in an interview. “ After an extensive search by myself and four deputies and the drug dog the store was cleared and considered safe. No unwanted person was found nor any explosive devices.” The investigation is ongoing, Szudera said. He said that about 9:24 a.m. a Kmart employee called the Hill County Sheriff’s Office to report a call claiming there was a bomb on the Kmart property and giving instructions to the Kmart management. After evacuating the store and searching it extensively, Szudera said, he turned the store back over to the Kmart store management about noon. The store reopened about 12:30 p.m. Comments from Kmart are not forthcoming while the incident is being investigated. “We had a bomb threat at the store this morning,” Kelly Bennett, manager of the Havre store said Wednesday afternoon, and referred all other questions including customer inquiries to Kmart media relations at (847) 286-8371. A representative of Kmart media relations referred all other questions about the Havre incident to the law enforcement officers investigating the incident. No other Kmarts had repor ted bomb threat s to the corporation by Wednesday afternoon, she said. The Associated Press reports that the FBI is investigating a string of similar bomb threats across the country in the past week. (See related story on Page A2.) Szudera said Wednesday that he doubts the Havre call is related, but he didn’t rule that out. “It doesn’t appear to be connected at this time but that is uncertain,” he said. “It will be investigated.” He said when the call was made to Kmart the caller told the Kmart employee on the telephone that if law enforcement officers came within 40 feet of the building the bomb would explode. Comments made by the caller indicated that the caller may have had the store under surveillance, Szudera said. He added that because of the ongoing investigation he could not comment on details of that aspect of the incident. The employees and customers had been gathered and locked in at the front of the store. Szudera said once he was told what was happening, he ordered the store evacuated. The customers left the area, and the Kmart employees gathered behind the shelter of a semi trailer on the north edge of the store’s parking lot, next to U.S. Highway 2. The sheriff’s office set up a staging area at the USDA Service Center just east of Kmart, and established a p e r ime t e r. The Hav re Po l i c e De p a r tme n t , t h e Hav r e Fi r e Department and the Montana Highway Patrol also responded, Szudera said. He has also contacted the FBI, which is helping in the investigation, he said. At about 10:30 a.m., Szudera said, he and Undersheriff Don Brostrum and deputies James Dahl and Jamie Ross entered the building and conducted a Thorough search, finding neither any people nor any bombs. He then conducted the search again with Kmart management, then had deputy Pete Federspiel bring in a drug-searching dog, which is also trained to detect people, Szudera said. Nothing was found in any of the searches, he said. “About 12 p.m. the store was turned back over to the manager and the employees,” Szudera said.