Police say solving New Year's Eve bomb threat hoax still a priority

Posted: Monday, June 05, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Anchorage police say they aren't planning to allow a man whose phony bomb threat disrupted the city's New Year's Eve celebration get away with it.

They're continuing to wait for some key evidence that FBI technicians can provide through video and audio enhancements five months after the incident occurred.

The man's face was caught on surveillance tape in the downtown bus depot, where he made a call to police that lasted 1 minute and 55 seconds.

Two cameras snapped his picture at four- to six-second intervals. The alternating images feed into one 600-hour tape. Detective Nancy Reeder said she interviewed a suspect in January, but there was no arrest.

''There are some things in the photograph that are real grainy, and if you enhance them, then it's going to prove who I think it is,'' Reeder told the Anchorage Daily News.

The bogus threat forced the evacuation of some 4,000 people from the Anchorage Performing Arts Center. It's fortunate no one was injured, Reeder said.

Police sent the videotape to the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., in January. Reeder said she'd marked the part of the tape she wants enhanced. But technicians sent it back this spring, saying they weren't sure which person they were to focus on.

Reeder made still photos of the suspect from the tape and sent them to Quantico.

Agents with the FBI's Anchorage office say it could be six- to 18 months before Anchorage police get their evidence back.

''Inasmuch as there really wasn't a bomb and no one was hurt, it's going to take a lower priority back at the lab,'' Special Agent Eric Gonzales said. ''We're getting requests from all over the country.''

Phoning in a bomb threat is terroristic threatening under the law, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

''We'd like to get it wrapped up,'' deputy chief Mark Mew said. ''But it's not in our hands right now.''

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