A bomb threat made to Southwest Healthcare Thursday prompted a thorough search of the entire facility.
By Chris Slone
According to Bowman Police Chief Charles Headley, the threat came by email, which was sent to one of the employees of the hospital. The email described an explosive device that was hidden in the building.
“(The email) didn’t specifically mention their building, but I think it was more or less a mass email that was sent out,” Headley said.
Headley said the email demanded $20,000 of bitcoins to be transferred to an electronic address provided in the email. According to Headley, the author of the email claimed it was going to be monitored and if the demands weren’t met, the device would be detonated.
Headley said the email also claimed it wasn’t an act of terrorism, just business.
The Bowman Police Department was contacted approximately at 10 a.m. Also, the Bowman Fire Department and the Bowman County Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene.
“Southwest Healthcare Services turned control of the facility and situation over to local law enforcement’s incident commander,” Southwest Healthcare said in a statement.
“Due to the nature of the threat, it was deemed by the incident commander that there was no immediate danger to the patients, residents, staff or building itself.”
A room by room search was conducted by the fire department, police department, the sheriff’s department and a member of Southwest Healthcare’s staff.
“The reason for having a staff member there is they could call attention to anything that looked suspicious,” Headley said. “Nothing out of the ordinary appeared. Therefore, after several hours, once we completed checking the hospital, the long-term care, the offices and the clinics, we cleared the scene.”
The scene was cleared at approximately 2 p.m.
“Our first and foremost concern is that of our patients, residents and staff, and we want to thank local police, sheriff and fire departments for their swift action in assessing and clearing the building,” Southwest Healthcare said.
Headley said he spoke to state radio and was told there was at least four other communities that had called 911.”
“I would think the numbers are piling up, even since ours came,” Headley said.
Headley said he had contacted the North Dakota Bureau of Investigation as well. An email was sent out late Thursday afternoon by the North Dakota State and Local Intelligence Center to organizations all across North Dakota regarding the bomb threat email.
“There have been several threats made via E-mail to various entities in North Dakota demanding payment in the form of Bitcoin,” the email stated. “If you receive a similar threat, please contact your local law enforcement agency and we ask that you forward the email to email@example.com. This information has been compiled for your situational awareness.
NBC reported earlier Thursday that a wave of bomb threats had been reported against businesses, schools, hospitals and other places across the country. So far, all have appeared to be hoaxes.