CVS Pharmacy on Main Street received a call around 6 p.m. at on Thursday, April 16. An unidentified person called in a bomb threat. At 7:15 p.m., students, staff and faculty alike were alerted of the bomb scare through an automated text message, email and phone call via the UM Alert System.
“The City of Montevallo has received a bomb threat and evacuations of the Main Street area are underway. While this reported threat does not include the University of Montevallo campus, we encourage all students, faculty, and staff to avoid the downtown Montevallo area until further notice.”
The immediate area from Montevallo City Hall to McDonald’s was evacuated and closed off.
The SGA banquet at the John W. Stewart Student Retreat Center on campus was coming to a close as newly elected cabinet members and senators received the calls and phoned family members.
“I was sitting at the table at the banquet eating cake when my phone vibrated and I saw what had happened. I heard gasps from others in the room and I knew they had received it too,” said newly elected sophomore senator Anna Dennis.
“I was concerned and hoping that students were safe on campus. I also had two friends in Alabaster at the time of the scare, and I was afraid they wouldn’t be able to return to campus that night,” related Dennis.
Abigail Bradley, this year’s STARS/Higher Ed Day coordinator, was also at the banquet when she got the call. “I was definitely worried about those in the Main Street area who may be affected, but I knew that if we were in serious danger the UM housing staff and police officers would evacuate us to a safe location, so I tried not to worry,” said Bradley.
“I am glad it ended very quickly because I am a worrier, and if it hadn’t ended, I probably wouldn’t have been able to sleep well.”
The City of Montevallo posted the following alert on their website the same time the UM Alert went out:
“The City of Montevallo received a bomb threat. This is currently under investigation. In response, several downtown blocks have been closed. Please avoid downtown/Main Street until further notice. It will be difficult to respond to questions during this time. Your patience is appreciated.”
“It was really surreal,” said sophomore Ondrea Lee. “The scare didn’t really sink in until I saw the cops on Main Street and started getting calls and texts from family and friends. I’m just glad everyone on our campus and in town are safe.”
Townsperson Scott Carr was near his apartment on Middle Street when police officers came by to evacuate the area. Carr said one officer “came up to us and told us we were not allowed to pull past his car, either on this [Middle] street or around the back of the building. I told him I lived here, and he said we could all stay at our own risk.”
Jefferson County deputies brought in a bomb-sniffing dog from the Hoover precinct, but no bomb or any other suspicious materials were found. Montevallo Police re-opened Main Street around 8:30 p.m after a vigorous two hour search.
The City of Montevallo followed up with this message on their website around 9 p.m.:
“Main Street has re-opened after the investigation by Montevallo police department and Jefferson County canine unit resulted in no identifiable danger. Many thanks to our citizens for their patience, our police department for their response and the assistance of the university and Jefferson County.”
“I don’t believe there’s any real threat,” said Nabors Street resident Josh Lofty. “It was probably some punk-a– kid who didn’t want to take his test in UMOM tomorrow.”
Montevallo Police Chief Jeremy Littleton said his office will continue to investigate the threat. He said that whoever made it could face terroristic threat charges.
Photo by Heather Buckner.