By Tim Eberly
Employees of Rocky Boy's tribal office evacuated their building Friday after receiving a bomb threat from an unidentified woman.
On Friday at 9:51 a.m., the tribal office receptionist received a phone call from a woman who said a bomb was located somewhere in the building, tribal officials said. The caller, who disguised her voice, did not disclose her name. Soon after, a tribal office employee found a suspicious-looking package, prompting Tribal Chairman Alvin Windy Boy to evacuate the building immediately.
"In light of the situation that's happening nationwide," Windy Boy said, "we wanted to make sure that this incident didn't escalate into something we didn't want later on. We wanted to make sure the safety of people is primary, whether it's a hoax or not."
Once notified of the bomb threat, Rocky Boy police placed a call to the Department of Emergency Services at 10:30 a.m., which then notified Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls.
Malmstrom dispatched an explosive disposal vehicle and a team equipped with protective helmets and body gear to Rocky Boy. The bomb disposal unit intended to depart via helicopter but was fogged in, and completed the commute on the ground, said Stan Gardipee, a Rocky Boy police investigator. When the officers from Malmstrom arrived about 2 p.m., local police cordoned off the road leading to the tribal office while the bomb disposal unit and a Rocky Boy security guard performed an extensive search of the tribal office, and two smaller buildings behind it. During the hour-long search, no bomb was detected.
Tribal office employees were concerned when they examined a large, unfamilar package postmarked from China, Gardipee said. Employees opened the package, a potentially perilous act that Malmstrom officers later discouraged upon arrival, and found it contained health care supplies, said police Sgt. Rick Gardipee.
"They didn't remember sending for it," Sgt. Gardipee said. "So when (the bomb threat) came in, they opened it."
Before departing, the Malmstrom bomb squad supervisor offered Rocky Boy officials procedural instructions in event of a future bomb scare.
"He said, If you see some suspicious-looking box, just leave it there.' And they would come in and use their X-ray equipment to take a look at it," said Stan Gardipee.