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Bomb Threat Empties Los Angeles Times Offices

July 30, 2002|JESSICA GARRISON and ANTHONY McCARTNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Dozens of Los Angeles police officers armed with high-powered rifles swarmed through the downtown offices of the Los Angeles Times on Monday evening after a man ran into the newspaper's offices claiming to be carrying a bomb and threatening to explode it.

At 9:45 p.m., after negotiating with the man for more than an hour, police arrested him without incident. There was no bomb or weapon in the black book bag he carried, police said.

Police received a call at 5:40 p.m. from the man, saying he was in The Times' building and had an "explosive device," police said. The man had entered the parking garage on 2nd Street and told a guard he had a "trigger device" tucked inside a book bag, pLt. Horace Frank said.

Police would not identify the man, but said he was about 25 and was neither a current nor former employee of The Times.

All employees had been evacuated, and several city blocks were sealed off around the building, across the street from City Hall.

By 8:30 p.m., the Los Angeles Police Department had contacted its criminal conspiracy unit and the FBI. Soon after, SWAT officers had entered the building to negotiate with the man.

Patrick Butler, 46, who has worked as a security guard at The Times for eight years, said he had just returned from a break when a man walked into the garage and confronted him.

" 'When I straighten my leg, it's gonna blow,' " Butler quoted the man as saying.

Butler said the man, who claimed that someone had stolen his idea for an all-black show, told him, "You don't want to die."

After reaching a hallway in The Times' building, the man crouched and repeatedly warned security guards that he had a bomb.

Times employees produced the newspaper from its Olympic plant a few blocks away, and the company's facilities in the San Fernando Valley and Orange County.

*

Times staff writer P.J. Huffstutter contributed to this report.

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