It's a night you're never supposed to forget and for students this year's prom was just that.
At about 9:14 p.m. Saturday night May 5 a call was made on the Brooklyn Park Police non-emergency line that a bomb was going to detonate at 10 p.m. at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center. No explosive devices or suspicious items were found.
According to Brooklyn Center Commander Brian Peters, there were three events happening at the Center at the time, two weddings and Armstrong's prom.
"We take this kind of threat very seriously, especially when there is a great number of people in one place at one time," Peters said. "Our sergeant on duty and the Center's management decided to evacuate, which was fairly easy to accomplish using the P.A. system there."
There were 700 to 1,000 people who had to be evacuated, he said.
Armstrong High School Principal David Dahl said the threat was not specific to any event, but just to the center itself.
Police told everyone to evacuate, but didn't say there was a bomb threat. Metro Transit buses were on hand for people as most of the prom-goers were transported to the Target parking lot nearby.
"The wedding parties had mostly died down and many of those guests went to the Embassy Suite Hotel," Peters said. "It took about two hours to completely get the all clear and people were allowed to come back into the Center."
But by that time a good chunk of Armstrong students had left in their own vehicles or got rides home and seeing this Armstrong Principal Dave Dahl called it a night, Peters said.
The prom ended at about 11:15 p.m. or 11:30 p.m., but one wedding continued on, he said.
"When I was there it just looked like people were standing around in the Target parking lot and many were leaving" Peters said. "My concern in a situation like this is we want to balance the sensitivity of events too, but make sure people are aware of what's going on."
Dahl said students gathered in the Target parking lot were joined by other prom goers and began dancing to make the best of the situation.
"All the vehicles had their radios tuned to the same channel so the same songs were playing," Dahl said. "Parents were able to pick up students from the Target parking lot, other students left for their post prom activities, etc. The students conducted themselves in an exemplary manner making the most of a difficult situation."
Having a bomb threat during your wedding reception and prom is a memory you'll have forever, he said.
"We didn't want to put any more negativity to it," Peters said. "We didn't want to act in a way that’s disrespectful and didn’t want it to come off, even if its a serious call, as if police cracking down on something."
He said Airport police and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office were on hand with K9 units and the Plymouth and New Hope Police were on hand to help. Three dogs were used in sweeping the area including the center, surrounding space, parking lots and vehicles outside.
Those in the wedding parties understood the process and police procedure and it was apparent having prom cut short disappointed the prom-goers.
"But for the most part they were in good spirits," he said.
An investigation has begun into the bomb threat call. Because the bomb threat call was made to a non-emergency line it makes it a little more difficult because the call wasn't recorded.
"The dispatcher was able to write down what the caller said and we do have the phone number in which the call orginated from," Peters said. "The phone number was not local."
The investigation will take time, he said. Peters would not speculate on whether or not the bomb threat was some sort of prank for the prom-goers or wedding guests.