CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More companies across the country, including some in Charlotte, opened their email Friday to find the same bomb threat sent out nationwide the day before.
In the Carolinas and across the country, thousands of people were forced to evacuate after a bomb threat scare on Thursday.
“We thought originally (we were) the second of three, and then (we) found out there were 11 (bomb threats),” said Shelley White, executive director of Charlotte’s Child and Family Services.
Cloister Honey in Charlotte has only seven employees, but it received one of those emails.
”I mean, we're small,” said Randall York, owner of Cloister Honey. “There were universities that were on the list, and cities and towns and big corporations and Cloister Honey.”
York called 911 and evacuated the building for about 30 minutes as police and firefighters checked it out.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department confirmed that it investigated more than a dozen unsubstantiated bomb threats across the Charlotte area Thursday.
Police are concerned that there may be more threats Friday because people who did not check their emails Thursday are now signing into their accounts.
There were other threats around the area, including in Fort Mill, Boone and Raleigh.
“Making sure everybody got out was a little stressful,” White said.
Authorities said the threats came in via email. One threat targeted The VUE apartment complex in uptown Charlotte.
The subject line for one of the emails read, “Think twice,” and then it described a hidden bomb and demanded $20,000 in bitcoin.
Management at The Vue sent tenants a message apologizing for the inconvenience, and police checked more than a dozen places and found nothing.
Another threat affected the Children and Family Services Center. Chopper 9 Skyzoom was overhead as people were evacuated from the building. White told Channel 9 she read the threatening email.
"It had some things in it that looked suspicious. They asked for $20,000 in bitcoin," White said.
The Police Department said it responded to 16 different locations for reported bomb threats between 1:37 p.m. and 3:53 p.m. No suspicious packages or devices were located.
Bomb threat locations:
- 225 West Martin Luther King Boulevard
- 215 North Pine Street
- 1300 Baxter Street
- 601 East 5th Street
- 300 South Tryon Street
- 3314 Rainbow Circle
- 3110 Cullman Avenue
- 4428 Taggart Creek Road
- 1355 Continental Boulevard
- 10100 Ballantyne Commons Parkway
- 230 North College Street
- 2200 Coronation Boulevard
- 305 Doggett Street
- 930 Culp Road
- 3735 Glen Lake Road
- 13410 South Ridge Road
The York County Sheriff's Office also said it was investigating three bomb threats, one in York and two in the Fort Mill area, Thursday afternoon.
Police in Boone said they shut down State Farm Road as they responded to a bomb threat.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office said it was investigating email threats asking for bitcoin in Indian Trail and Monroe.
There are other similar threats being reported in cities across the country.
“So far nothing has been confirmed as far as tragedies, so I think we're really lucky,” said Caitlin Donley, who evacuated during the threat.
M. Quentin Williams, a former FBI agent, said investigating the case won’t be easy, but the suspect may be traceable because of the emails.
“It definitely helps because it's traceable,” Williams said. “Some law enforcement agencies have used the word hoax or scam. I would be hesitant to say that.”
If it is not a hoax, Williams said it's possible the threats are from robo email, given that most are similar, if not the same, and went out in bunches.
Williams said the threat will likely cost tens of millions of dollars between resources, lost business and time.
“But it has to be done, because it only takes one (real bomb),” Williams said.
Federal investigators are working to trace what appears to be a nationwide internet attack.
Channel 9 spoke to Dr. Cindy Combs, a retired professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and cyberterrorism expert. Combs said the threats, which are difficult to prevent, could have all come from a single overseas source.
"So there are ways to do it, but there are so many individuals and groups so that there is simply no way you’re going to track and find all of them. More countries now are capable of this kind of attack," said Combs.
Combs told Channel 9 she believes the National Security Agency and other investigators are moving quickly to find out who is behind the attacks and could have the source soon.
“There are more and more countries now that are capable of doing this kind of attack,” Combs said. “I’m not sure there’s an answer.”
Channel 9 contacted the FBI, and the agency sent the following statement:
"We are aware of the recent bomb threats made in cities around the country, and we remain in touch with our law enforcement partners to provide assistance. As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety."
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