OCI receives bogus bomb threat

OKEECHOBEE — There apparently is no connection between the weekend’s bomb threat to the Okeechobee Correctional Institution (OCI) and last week’s bomb threat to Walmart.

A report by Deputy Lieutenant Shannon Peterson, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), indicated that he responded to OCI around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19, in regard to the threat.

“The male on the phone stated that one of the visitation rooms had a bomb in it, and it was going to blow up,” stated Lt. Peterson’s report.

According to a Department of Corrections (DOC) spokesman no bomb was found by bomb-sniffing K-9s from the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.

“The prison was put on lockdown and the inmates were told to go into their cells and stay in place,” said Alberto Moscoso from DOC’s office in Tallahassee. “No bomb was found and there were no evacuations. As of Sunday, everything was back to normal.”

Lt. Peterson noted in his report that Sunday’s visitation at the prison was cancelled.

Detective Jack Boon, of the Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD), in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is investigating a March 16 bomb threat that forced the evacuation of the Okeechobee Walmart store.

That caller mistakenly contacted the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and told a dispatcher “… there will be a mass shooting in Walmart. There is a bomb in the building and they might need to evacuate.”

The caller then hung up.

The HCSO then contacted OCSO dispatchers about the threat.

After Walmart employees and customers were evacuated around 2:09 a.m. Wednesday, March 16, the South Parrott Avenue store was searched but no explosive device was found.

OCPD Detective and public information officer Bill Saum said there is no connection between the two incidents.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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