Staff Reports On: 03:01PM / Monday January 20, 2014
The North Adams Regional Hospital campus was closed for nearly two hours after a bomb scare on Monday.
Update: Police have charged James Lafleur, 55, of Langlois Avenue, Williamstown, with calling in the threat. Lafleur pleaded not guilty Tuesday and was ordered to seek help at the Brien Center. Williamstown Police arrested him at his home on Monday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North Adams Regional Hospital was forced to divert patients for nearly 90 minutes on Monday afternoon after a bomb threat was called in.
Police say they have a suspect and that charges will be filed.
Police Sgt. James Burdick said the hospital received the threat at 1:01 p.m.
"It was taken very seriously by the hospital staff here and taken seriously by the police department, the fire department, and ambulance," said Burdick minutes after the campus reopened at 2:40 p.m. "We set up a command center as we should."
Hospital spokesman Paul Hopkins said earlier that the building and grounds were being checked by emergency personnel.
"The investigation is under way and we don't at this time believe the threat to be credible," Hopkins stated in a press release as the hospital reopened. "We do, however, believe all threats to be very serious."
The hospital instituted its own protocols, including notifying police and staff, and restricting access to the building by patients and visitors. An individual who had an appointment with the imaging department said he was turned away after a police officer told him no was being allowed onto the grounds.
The hospital itself was not evacuated and no one was allowed to immediately leave. Cars began to leave the campus shortly before the restrictions were lifted
"The hospital went by their protocols, we all worked together on it and it was resolved in less than two hours," said Fire Director Stephen Meranti. The director said a similar threat had occurred several years ago.
"Obviously, it tied up considerable manpower and resources," Burdick, who added that police have "developed a possible suspect."
An individual in Williamstown who was interviewed by Williamstown Police, according to scanner reports, admitted to calling the hospital in the morning but denied making a call in the afternoon or making any threats to the hospital. Police did not identify the suspect nor is it clear if it is the person police interviewed.
"There's numerous charges that could possibly be brought forward," said Burdick. "We'll have to wait for the investigation and consult with the district attorney's office on possible charges."
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