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Bomb threats from Linn Hall

$2,500 reward offered for tips leading

By Cindy Petersen
On April 16, 2009

  • Tom Kaldenberg. William Mornini

Officials at Kirkwood Community College now know that the bomb threats e-mailed to a Des Moines television station on April 1 and 2 were sent from the computer kiosks on the second floor of Linn Hall. They are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons involved.According to Melissa Jensen, emergency services and energy director, Kirkwood has been working with local officials to find those responsible for the hoax.

Many students and faculty first thought the evacuation of Linn, Benton and Cedar halls on April 1 was a joke. Tom Kaldenberg, executive director of facilities, said he thought the e-mails were most likely from someone who just wanted to create problems for Kirkwood. "The e-mail indicated that the person was upset with Kirkwood and probably just wanted to get our attention. However, this will not be taken lightly. Kirkwood is working with local officials to find the person responsible. The police are investigating every possibly lead," he said.

Kaldenberg said he didn't think the destruction of a pop machine off-campus at a nearby apartment complex was related to the bomb hoax. "This is the first bomb threat we've had here at Kirkwood in the 14 years I've been here," said Kaldenberg. "Though there was some confusion as to the exact content of the e-mail when it was first reported, I think the college handled it appropriately. The safety of the students is always of the utmost importance," he said. Kaldenberg added that the person responsible would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. "After all, this is considered a felony," he said.

The threats not only disrupted classes but also caused many people to feel unsafe as a result. Liberal Arts major Laurie Demaught said she is still a little confused about the details surrounding the bomb threat. "I didn't find out what happened until later. I think they should have just cancelled classes for the day. I was still a little worried even after they told us we could go back in," she said.

Jensen said the Kirkwood Alert system was used to alert students, faculty and parents of the decision to evacuate but some students received an e-mail but not a text message. "We tried just sending it just to the main campus but unfortunately not everyone received the text message.The next day when we evacuated the buildings we sent it to all the campuses and that fixed the problem," she said. "This is a fairly new system and still getting rid of the kinks. It's proved to be quite valuable to the college," she added.

Emily Beal, a Liberal Arts major, said she thought Kirkwood did a great job handling such a difficult situation. "I wasn't too worried about the evacuation. It could have been a lot more chaotic," she said. "I figured it was probably some kid who thought it would be funny to scare people."

According to Kaldenberg, once students and faculty were evacuated, 20-25 custodial, maintenance and grounds employees scoured the buildings. He added that the owners of the property are responsible for searching the buildings, not the police. "Can you imagine having to search a building where a bomb might go off? Our employees are the real heroes here," he said.

Anyone who was on the second floor of Linn Hall on April 1 from approximately 11:14 a.m. to approximately 11:54 a.m. on April 2 and happened to hear or see anything suspicious is asked to contact Kaldenberg or Jensen at 398-5569 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-CR-CRIME. All calls will remain confidential.

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