A bomb threat on the 12th anniversary of Sept. 11 spooked Virginians Wednesday and paralyzed local traffic after an anonymous caller threatened to set off an explosive somewhere in the Norfolk area.
Authorities received the call around 7:50 a.m. and heard a man's voice issue the warning. The caller also reportedly gave a timeframe for the alleged bombing to occur.
Traffic grinded to a halt at various bridge tunnels in the area as authorities banded together to inspect the structures. Navy and Air Force officers and K-9 units joined local and state police, as well as members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to conduct the searches.
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"Any kind of threat is taken very seriously, especially one of this nature on this day," Corinne Geller, a state police spokeswoman, told the Virginia Pilot.
"There is an assessment that must be done to ascertain the credibility, nature, and purpose of a threat. Threats also cannot always be taken at face value — could the threat be a diversionary tactic? Could misinformation be purposely given?"
The Norfolk bomb threat scared residents, who vented on local news site WVEC13's Facebook page.
"I came through the tunnel at around 8:45 a.m., and the police were just getting there. I saw about 10 police cars," one person wrote. "I was wondering what was going on and thinking about what day it is. Kinda scary going through that tunnel."
"I always feel vulnerable in any of the tunnels, on any day, but especially today," another posted.
No evidence of a bomb was found and police said they considered the threat expired by noon Wednesday, but the traffic backups remained for most of the day.
"We know the traffic delays were significant," Geller told the Pilot. "However, our intent was not to inconvenience the motoring public, but to protect them."
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