EAST LIVERPOOL - A bomb threat at a downtown law firm forced the evacuation of surrounding businesses for nearly two hours Friday, but no explosion occurred and no one was injured.
Aronson, Fineman and Davis was called at 12:56 p.m. by an unknown person who said two bombs inside the Fifth Street law office were to detonate in an hour and one-half.
Police were called by the law office and the fire department was notified, with all businesses advised to evacuate their customers and employees.
With groups of evacuees standing around the street corners, Fifth Street from Washington to Market was blocked to traffic while firefighters and police officers began a search of the building.
Nothing was found, with police Chief John Lane saying, "It's huge in (the building). It could be anywhere. This is a bunch of nonsense, but we can't take a chance."
With police and fire personnel estimating the detonation time of any bomb to be 2:30 p.m., they waited outside after the search until 2:45 p.m. before declaring buildings safe to re-enter.
Dave Marshall, owner of Coffee Fusion across the street from Aronson, Fineman and Davis, said he had been having a busy day prior to the incident but that business had begun winding down just before the evacuation so not much business was lost.
He had his employees gather in the far rear of his large building, away from the law offices.
Firefighters said they actually cannot order anyone to evacuate a building but can only suggest it, and if people want to stay, nothing can be done to force them to leave.
Attorney Joseph Ludovici of the firm said, "In my 26 years of practice, this is the first time I ever had anything like this happen."
He said they will try to determine if attorneys have handled any cases involving a client who would have made the bogus bomb threat, but said he doesn't think they have.
"Thank God it was a joke," Ludovici said.
Lane said the caller's identity could not be determined and speculated the call was probably made from a throw-away cell phone.
He emphasized, "They definitely will be prosecuted if caught."
Anyone with information should contact the police department at 330-385-1234.
This bomb threat comes just three days after St. Clair Township Police responded to a report of an unusual electronic device inside the Walmart store in Calcutta that resulted in employees and customers being evacuated.
A suspect in that case has been charged.