Bomb Threats in Lowell Among Dozens Statewide
LOWELL -- Police and firefighters responded Thursday to four separate bomb threats in Lowell that were part of a nationwide spate that saw at least 35 other businesses around Massachusetts hit with similar threats.
The threats were delivered via email, and demanded cryptocurrency be sent to avoid having buildings bombed. State police said similar threats were received in at least 10 other states.
“They wanted to be paid in Bitcoins,” police Superintendent Raymond “Kelly” Richardson said. “I thought Bitcoins weren’t worth anything anymore.”
The bomb threats were made Thursday afternoon via emails received at Cross Point, The Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility on First Street Boulevard, a business on Fletcher Street, and a private residence, according to Capt. James Hodgdon. Calls to police about the threats were received between 1:40 p.m. and 1:57 p.m.
“They demanded to receive $20,000 in Bitcoin or they would detonate a bomb at that location,” Hodgdon said. “Police, fire responded and they also consulted with the Mass. State Police bomb squad and it was deemed to be a low-level threat at all locations.”
Hodgdon said an evacuation began at Cross Point and, once it was determined to be a low-level threat, employees were allowed back inside the massive complex that is home to thousands of workers. Kronos and Verizon are among companies with a large presence in the complex.
All four locations in Lowell where threats were received were checked and those inside each of the other locations were also allowed back in afterward. The state police bomb squad responded to some locations that were threatened elsewhere in the state.
In Hingham, Jim Collins of East Coast Investigative Services received an email with the subject line “Think twice” shortly before 1:30 p.m. The email threatened that if $20,000 in Bitcoin was not sent before the end of the business day the building would be blown up.
Don’t call the cops or do anything suspicious, the email said, because the bombers are watching and will blow the place up. But Collins, who’s been a private investigator for decades, said he knows his building is very secure, and it was unlikely someone had come in and planted a bomb as the email said. He called Hingham police.
“This shook me to my core,” Collins said a couple of hours later after police cleared the building. “I was like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’”
The Massachusetts State Police tweeted Thursday that its Fusion Center is tracking multiple bomb threats emailed to numerous businesses in the state.
“MSP and partner agencies on federal and local levels are conducting risk assessment procedures regarding the threats and will determine appropriate responses,” state police said in a tweet early in the day. “NO indications of any explosives located or detonated to this point. We will continue to communicate info when available.”
One of the threatening emails obtained by the Boston Herald contained tortured syntax and unusual word usage, such as ’If any suspicious activity, panic or policeman is noticed he will power the bomb.”
The email insisted the threats were “nothing personal” and that “We are not terrorists and don’t assume any responsibility for explosions in other buildings.”
Sean Philip Cotter contributed to this report.
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.