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Issue of September 10, 2014
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Bomb threat results in hotel evacuation


July 16, 2014 | 11:20 AM

A bomb threat Thursday night forced the evacuation of many guests at the 503-room hotel at Horseshoe Southern Indiana in Bridgeport.

The Harrison County Sheriff's Dept. and its Emergency Response Team, the bomb squad from Louisville Metro Police, a trooper from the Indiana State Police and firefighters from Elizabeth, Lanesville and New Albany responded to the scene after a phone call was received at the hotel at 9:09 p.m.

"Our guests and team-member safety always comes first, so the hotel was promptly evacuated and the authorities were contacted," Lizzet Verdi, marketing and communications manager, said.

"The threat came from a male who had a Middle Eastern accent, and he said there was a bomb in a particular room," Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye said shortly after the all-clear was given to guests at about 1:15 a.m. Friday. "There were actually two rooms that were involved, and we made contact with the guests in those rooms and spoke with them and they were cleared and had absolutely no involvement in the threat."

When asked further about the source of the threat, Seelye said the call was routed through corporate headquarters of Caesars, which operates Horseshoe. The source of the call was listed as the Philippines, so there's no way of knowing who made the phone call or even if the threat was made against Horseshoe Southern Indiana or another hotel property elsewhere, Seelye said.

Guests from the first and second floors of the hotel were evacuated from their rooms and moved to a walkway area just outside the main entrance, with some laying on the floor to take a nap, others standing at a large, plate-glass window watching emergency responders, some standing on the top floor of the parking garage and others eating cookies and fruit the hotel had provided.

Guests were also able to go to Legends to receive complimentary chicken strips and french fries to eat.

"We did provide refreshments, as well as accommodated them at (The Spread) buffet and at Legends with free meals. Along with the future free stay, we also granted any requests made to move to other floors in the hotel," Verdi said.

Those who had not heard of the threat while they were on the casino boat, The Legend, or at The Spread buffet, which never closed during the threat, were denied entry to the hotel by security personnel who said there was "an emergency situation."

In a note that was slipped under each room's door, Horseshoe apologized for the disruption, and Ryan Coppola, vice president of hospitality at HSI, gave those who were evacuated a free night's stay for a future visit.

Twitter: @_alanstewart

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