Local public safety agencies and K-9 units from Chatham County spent 40 minutes Friday afternoon searching the premises of a cardboard box factory in Pembroke after a bomb threat was called in earlier.
In the end, authorities say the dogs were not alerted to anything suspicious, but the incident remains under investigation.
At about 11:30 a.m., the threat was called into Express Packaging at 912 North Main Street. The caller said a bomb was placed in the building the night before and threatened that it would go off at 2 p.m., according to Bill Collins, Pembroke Public Safety director.
Pembroke safety officials, along with Bryan County Emergency Services and bomb-sniffing dogs from the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, were dispatched to the scene. The plant, which employs 50 workers was evacuated. Roads around the factory were blocked and traffic diverted.
Authorities then played a waiting game before entering the building. Collins, along with Pembroke Fire Chief Peter Waters, and CCSO Lieutenant Jason Livie, with his bomb sniffing dog Kyra, Deputy Derrick Frank with his dog Nano and Deputy Michael Giaquinto, with Maro, walked through the factory.
As a precaution, they waited until half an hour after the bomb was supposed to detonate before going inside.
Express Package Office Manager Sarah Cook received the call, which came from an unknown area code. She said she attempted to keep the caller on the line to trace the call, but the number appeared to be blocked by an app. She then called 911.
She said the man had a Middle Eastern accent.
“He was pretty much saying if we valued our life we needed to go ahead and get out, that he was responsible for some of the other bombings around the U.S.,” Cook said, adding that she didn’t believe him, “but I did not want to put anyone’s life in jeopardy so we got everyone out.”
Cook said the bomb threat was a first in her 18 years at the facility, which is known in Pembroke as the “box factory” and has been there about 28 years.
“He didn’t ask for money or any other information. He didn’t let me do any talking,” Cook said, adding that she knew of no one with a motive to make such a call. “No one's been let go, we haven't gotten any complaints. I have no idea why he called. The world’s just a crazy place and there are evil people in it. You never know what kind of sick people get their kicks out of this.”