Bomb threat probed that shut down Port Townsend ferry
Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Those responding to Tuesday night’s bomb scare at the Port Townsend Ferry Terminal include Washington State Patrol Trooper C.J. Daigle, K-9 officer R.L. Louthan, Port Townsend Police Sgt. Mike Evans and Port Townsend Police Officer Dave Winegar, from left. Cody, a bomb-sniffing German shepherd, is behind Evans.
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The MV Salish and MV Kennewick ferries were held at the Port Townsend docks and searched by Washington State Ferries crew, which found no explosives, said spokeswoman Marta Coursey.
State Patrol bomb squads equipped with dogs inspected both the Port Townsend and Coupeville terminals but found no explosives.
Ferry service was back to normal with the 8:30 p.m. Port Townsend run to Coupeville and the 9:15 p.m. Coupeville sailing to Port Townsend.
Now, the Homeland Security Division of the State Patrol is conducting a probe into who sent the threat and is using information from the Port Townsend Police Department, Trooper Russ Winger, State Patrol spokesman said Wednesday.
The ferry system's emergency management coordinator, Helmut Steele, said Wednesday that ferry officials were alerted by an anonymous caller who called the main Washington State Ferries phone number at about 4:35 p.m.
The caller reportedly said he had overheard at the Port Townsend Ferry Terminal a person talk about blowing up the ferry.
The caller was asked whether he had contacted police, and he said he planned to do so, Steele said.
While initial reports from the State Patrol said the threat was sent through a text message, no information was available about the origin, destination or contents of such a message from the State Patrol, Port Townsend Police Department or the state ferries system Wednesday.
Steele said he had heard the Port Townsend Police Department had received a text message, something that was not confirmed by spokesman Luke Bogues, who said the department had not received any threat-based text messages.
Bogues said the department “had received several pieces of information” about the bomb scare but did not divulge its nature or contents.
Bogues would not say whether the information received was directly from the perpetrator or if it represented overheard conversation.
Winger said Wednesday he had not heard of any instances of bomb scares or threats being sent by text message, adding that such communication can be easily traced.
“If a text was sent, they can follow up on the call and find the phone where the message came from,” Winger said.
News that the threat came from a text message initially was broadcast on police radio, Winger said, and was passed on without confirmation.
One of the first reports of the terminal closure was a tweet from one of the news stations about the threat, and that could have been labeled as a text message in the confusion, Winger said.
During Tuesday's shutdown, four sailings were canceled — the 5:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. sailings from Port Townsend for Coupeville and the 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Coupeville departures for Port Townsend.
The Coast Guard, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and East Jefferson Fire-Rescue also assisted in the search for explosives.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.
Last modified: August 28. 2013 5:42PM