Hundreds impacted by bomb hoax

Fire Marshal Margarete Hickman was going to take a half-day off Friday. At — p.m. she was downtown on the Plaza, helping evacuate the area around the Lincoln statue. More than three hours later, she was still downtown, standing outside the Community Development building when the Oregon State Police Bomb Squad announced the device found at the foot of the Lincoln statue was not a bomb.

"I guess I'm not getting off early today," Hickman said.

Police estimated hundreds were also inconvenienced when evacuated due to the imitation bomb.

Representatives from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival believe that some 600 people were evacuated from their 2 p.m. performance in the Angus Bowmer Theatre.

"We had a lot of disappointed patrons," said Amy Richard, Media Relations and Audience Development Manager for OSF. "But everyone can get a refund. So they only missed out on the show."

Dave and Sue Inglis from Tacoma, Washington were hoping to see "On the Razzle" at the Bowmer at 2 p.m. The cancellation changed their plans.

"This was a play we were really looking forward to seeing," Dave Inglis said. "We were going to have a barbecue [after the play]. I guess we'll just get into the wine a little earlier. In ten years of coming to Shakespeare we've never had this problem. I hope it doesn't become one."

"I work at a high school," Sue Inglis said. "We have two or three of these a year, It's not that unusual.

Ashland Police Deputy Chief Rich Walsh believes that "several hundred" more people over the estimated numbers of OSF patrons were evacuated from the streets, park and surrounding businesses.

Ashley Scallon of Ashland was heading to work at The Mix on the plaza at — p.m. but arrived to a line of police tape and an empty store.

"I don't know what's going on," Scallon said. "I don't know if I should stay or go. I guess it isn't safe to stay."

For nearly four hours, the downtown area of Ashland became an empty space lined with yellow tape and bordered by police cars. Businesses lining the intersection of Winburn Way and N. Main Street were closed down and diners were forced to end their meals quickly.

"They didn't even let us use the restroom," said a patron leaving Alex's.

For those whose cars were stuck inside the evacuation zone, the process of extracting them from the area was tedious. If the car was close enough to the perimeter, a police escort would help the owner to the vehicle and then remove and replace the police tape as vehicles slowly lined their way out of the downtown area. If a car was too close to the statue, owners were not allowed to access their vehicles.

Local off-duty police officers were called in to pick up patrol positions throughout the city.

"It's unfortunate what an inconvenience this was for everybody," Walsh said. "If we can figure out who did this, they're going to pay the price."

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