Wednesday, February 8, 2006
The bomb scare
t was mighty crazy at IVC today. On my way to class at 8:00 this morning, just as I walked past the front of the Administration Building (A100), I spotted two IVC cops staring down at a small canvas bag with tape wound around it. I joined them in silent downward staring. Then I said, "So what's this?" One cop said the object was mighty suspicious. He indicated that he might have to rope the area off.
I went to my classroom, which was maybe one hundred feet from the "suspicious" object, and when class was over at 9:15, I found that an area fanning out maybe one hundred feet from the object was taped off with yellow emergency tape, including the entrance to the building in which I teach. I made my way to the other exit of the building. I crossed the edge of the A-quad over to A200, but I found that I couldn't use my usual entry into that building, owing to more yellow tape and another grumpy sugar-coated cop. I went around to another entrance.
People were buzzin' about something, and I figured it was the suspicious object. I quickly typed a quiz for my 9:30 class--a Plato quiz! what could be more absurd?--and when I went to duplicate it (in the now-infamous Gensler Memorial Duplication Cubicle), an administrator told me that everybody had to evacuate the building. "Now," she added.
Turns out, all four of the A-quad buildings were being evacuated. I went way around to nearly the flagpole/parking area, and I spotted an Andros F6A multi-mission mobile robot--the kind that bomb squads use. (See pic.)
Just then, I ran into somebody who said they just saw the robot pick up the suspicious object--and drop it. Twice.
"Jeez," I said.
Naturally, lots of students and faculty, et al., were gathering outside the zone of death, marked out by yellow tape and grumpy cops. I counted two cop cars, two fire engines, and I don't know what else, near the A100 flagpole area. I spotted Glenn running around saying important things. At one point, I spotted Dennis, too. He was talking to Glenn on a walkie-talkie. He kept shouting into the phone, "the Bullhorn? the Bullhorn?"
I ran into somebody who said that, originally, "they" (the cops?) found the suspicious object in the conference room, just inside the entrance of A100. That must've been just before I ran into those cops. I guess "they" grabbed the object and just plopped it down, right there, in front of A100, creating a zone of death that included four buildings full of classrooms.
I went to one of the tailgate parties--the one near the bookstore--and listened to rumors, jokes, and semi-official pronouncements. I heard that the Foundation committee had met in the conference room at 8:00 a.m., and, somehow, the object was found there in a "suspicious spot."
What's that mean? Nobody seemed to know.
I spotted Glenn again. Someone said that, right about when the Foundation people found the "object," the fire department had been called by someone who said there was a bomb on campus. When the cops learned of this, they decided to create the big yellow zone of death. (Turns out the "phone" story wasn't true.)
Glenn told somebody (who told me) that we've got nothing to worry about, cuz he's set up a command post in the temporaries.
That must've inspired broad smileage.
By then, it was clear that my 9:30 class--and lots of other classes--would not be held this morning. I hadn't even met yet with my 9:30 group, and I wondered what they must be thinking. A few of my students found me and asked what all this craziness meant. "It means that our class is cancelled, I guess," I said. The students thrilled. They squealed and giggled. I nearly joined them.
The crowds seemed to grow over time, and a festive spirit set in. Some people created little bomb discussion groups and wandered into the cafeteria. Others sat under trees, picnic-style, and wondered who would pull a "prank" like this. I heard a cop say, "the guy who did this, he better hope we don't catch 'im!" I nodded agreement, stupidly.
It was like a carnival, a celebration. I saw somebody dance. A girl who looked like Britney Spears was wigglin' around in the parking lot. It was, well, beautiful. I do believe that today's IVC bomb party will go down as this generation's Woodstock.
By 10:15, it was clear that this little "bomb scare" was seriously cutting into the teaching day. It seemed clear, too, that some students, upon hearing about the "bomb scare," planned to miss even classes held later in the day. They were enveloped in a fine "hooky" spirit, and who could blame them?
About then, I spotted the OC Sheriff's Department bomb crew helping Mr. Robot into his van. The fire engines drove off, one sporting a big American flag. I saw a bus with a picture of Adam Carolla on it. "This is what you get after a year and a half of Junior College," screamed the ad.
At 10:30, they sounded the "all-clear," and the fun was over. I hummed the Star-Spangled Banner in silence, as I watched people scatter and disappear.
ours later, President Roquemore sent everyone a fine memo, which included some of the photos displayed here. He wrote:
As you might have heard by now, the college evacuated the A-Quad this morning after an unattended and unusual looking bag was found in Room A-126 during a Foundation meeting. It appeared to be a canvas tote wrapped tightly with vinyl tape. Because of its suspicious appearance, IVCPD Chief Owen Kreza responded by calling the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad, which arrived around 9:30 a.m. to have a look at the object. The Bomb Squad x-rayed the bag using a remote-controlled robot before determining that there was no threat. The tote turned out to be filled with two bags of sand, which the Fire Department speculates might have been used by someone—perhaps one of our students—as a makeshift barbell. I am sure we are all relieved that it turned out to be nothing more than homemade exercise equipment. Incidentally, there is no truth to the rumor that a bomb threat had been called in to the college when the bag was found.
I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation to Owen and our campus police for their swift and very necessary response to the situation. And thanks also to Wayne Ward and the Facilities staff who worked jointly with him to set up a perimeter to control the crowd and traffic in and near the A-Quad. Job well done. I appreciate efforts of all who calmly and professionally came together during this time of crises to handle what had the potential of being a very serious matter.
As I was leaving for home, I spotted the latest issue of the Lariat. Boy, those Lariat jokers are something else! How on earth did they manage to get this "bomb" scare story out so fast?
They do such a good job, I decided to reproduce the Lariat's front page below. (Click on the image to make it bigger.)