Three anonymous bomb threats forced the evacuation of the Ramada Inn on Tuesday morning.
RCMP received a call from staff who reported the threats shortly before 10 a.m. The threats were handwritten on hotel stationery. Police also received calls from within the hotel stating that there was a bomb on the premises.
Police cordoned off Pemberton Terrace and Columbia Street West as they waited for the arrival of a bomb-detecting dog unit to conduct a thorough search.
The search by the unit and emergency response team members took about four hours, so it wasn’t until 3 p.m. when employees were able to return to the hotel and resume normal operation.
Police seized evidence in the building and their investigation continues.
“We found three notes,” said Trish Hanson, one of the housekeeping staff. “One was on a pop machine and two were in the maid’s closets.”
One of the notes read, “I know where the bomb is and you don’t. You’re going to die.” Each note was penned in a different handwriting style.
Seventy of the hotel’s rooms were occupied Monday night, and about half who remained on the premises Tuesday had to be evacuated.
A dozen staff congregated across Columbia at the visitors’ viewpoint as they waited for some sort of resolution so they could return to work.
“It could be anything, but it’s still scary,” said Theresa McNair, a restaurant server.
They were as mystified as the police, but provided a plausible theory. Recently they’ve had to chase unwanted visitors from the hotel. The culprits, believed to be drug addicts staying at a nearby hotel, steal from maids’ carts. The hotel maintenance man has had his door kicked in several times. The threats may have been retaliation.
“That’s what half the people are thinking,” Hanson said.
However, there was a mysterious twist to the threats. The maid’s closets are always kept locked and staff have accounted for all three keys.