SUNBURY — A reported pipe bomb threat caused local law enforcement to close the Sunbury town hall and issue a shelter-in-place order a half-mile area around it on Sunday afternoon.
Sunbury’s town hall is at 51 E. Cherry St.
The Sunbury Police Department posted on Facebook before 4 p.m., “Please be advised that there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation in progress in downtown Sunbury. We request that you avoid traveling in and around this area until further notice.
“Information regarding this situation will be released when available. We understand your curiosity, but the safety of the public and the integrity of the investigation are our top priorities. Rest assured; we are working diligently to resolve the matter.”
According to several reports, a person called the Sunbury Police Department after 2 p.m. and said they placed three pipe bombs at the town hall, where social functions can be held on the weekends. Shortly afterwards, the Delaware County Sheriff’s officers, along with Genoa Township and Sunbury police, evacuated a few people who were in the building. By 2:45 p.m., a reverse 911 call went out to area residents to seek shelter.
The Columbus Division of Fire’s Bomb Squad did a more thorough search of the building and grounds, and no devices were found. There were no injuries.
On Sunbury night, the Sunbury Police Department posted on Facebook:
“UPDATE: Downtown Sunbury Incident: After careful assessment involving multiple agencies, it appears that this was a swatting incident, and there is no immediate threat to the public. Further details about the incident will be shared with the public as soon as they become available. Thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation.”
The website Wikipedia defines swatting as “a criminal harassment tactic of deceiving an emergency service (via such means as hoaxing an emergency services dispatcher) into sending a police or emergency service response team to another person’s address… According to a report by the U.S. Office of Homeland Security, some swatting incidents have even targeted schools, malls, and hospitals.”
Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at [email protected].