City Hall in downtown Kansas City was evacuated and closed for nearly six hours Tuesday while police painstakingly checked the 29-story building after a phoned-in bomb threat.
By LYNN HORSLEY and CHRISTINE VENDEL
The Kansas City Star
About 600 people had to evacuate the building about 8:30 a.m., shortly after a man called police and said he placed a bomb in the building about 2 p.m. Monday and the bomb was set to detonate Tuesday morning. City officials had no information on what prompted the threat.
Police searched the building floor by floor, looking for anything suspicious, but found nothing.
Officers closed surrounding streets for the duration and evacuated part of police headquarters, which faces City Hall, until about 11:30 a.m.
About 60 Police Department employees, including homicide detectives, were told to leave their offices in the west side of police headquarters and move to the east side of the building. Police also temporarily shut down construction work on the west side of the building.
During their sweep, police found one item that they said looked out of place in the fountain on the north side of City Hall. Police bomb experts destroyed the item, which reportedly looked like a camera case. It turned out to be nothing dangerous, police said.
Police officials issued an all clear to employees about 2:15 p.m. and reopened the streets around City Hall. The building reopened to the public about 2:45 p.m.
A public hearing Tuesday morning on the future of Kansas City International Airport was interrupted. The task force was in the middle of taking public testimony, and the group’s co-chairs said the hearing will be rescheduled later.
The city’s 3-1-1 call center also was closed because of the evacuation, and a 9 a.m. City Plan Commission meeting had to be canceled.
Police are continuing to investigate. Anyone with information is asked to call 816-474-TIPS (8477).
City spokesman Chris Hernandez said the FBI also will investigate who called in the threat.
“Obviously it’s a disruption, and we don’t appreciate the disruption,” Hernandez said. “We’re taking this very seriously.”
Many downtown coffee shops and delis did a bonanza business as employees waited out the search. Initially, employees were told they might be let back into the building at noon.
Hernandez said some people went home because they simply didn’t have what they needed from their offices to work. But he also said many employees just kept working remotely downtown, with the use of cellphones and laptops.
“A lot of people plugged in and went to work,” he said.
To reach Lynn Horsley, call 816-226-2058 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.