WATERVILLE — Buildings at the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers were evacuated Thursday morning after the word “bomb” was found written on a plastic bucket in the entryway to one of the buildings there.

Waterville police around 10 a.m. were searching buildings on the 93 Silver St. campus as children and their parents were following a safety protocol and heading into the administration building.

Waterville’s police Chief Joe Massey said if police identify the person who wrote the word on a bucket that turned out to contain salt, they will consider charges. It is a serious situation, he said.

“Unfortunately, someone thought they would be funny, and as a result, it created quite an emergency response from fire and police, and it evacuated buildings,” Massey said at the scene. “It’s very concerning because there are children here. If I can find out who wrote ‘bomb,’ we’re going to prosecute them.”

Police got a call at 9:35 a.m. reporting that an employee found the bucket with the word scrawled on it. Emergency officials rushed to the scene, where several police cruisers, fire and rescue trucks and an ambulance were parked on Silver Street and officials headed onto the campus.

Children, parents and employees were walking or carrying children and babies to the administration building, where Richard Dorian, executive director of the Children’s Home, said the campus was being secured according to a safety protocol.

“The campus is on temporary lockdown so that folks can’t come onto campus,” Dorian said.

He said the bucket with the word “bomb” written on it was at the Parks Building, where adoption offices are located on the terrace or first level; the child care center, “The Children’s Place,” is on the main floor; and upper floors are vacant for storage purposes. Typically 53 children are in that building, but on Thursday there were about 40 because public schools are on vacation. There are six buildings on the campus.

“We are pleased that our professional staff followed our safety protocols and that this safety exercise had a safest outcome,” Dorian said later Thursday morning. He said people at the Children’s Home have talked a lot about school safety and want to be prepared. They are fortunate, he said, that a Waterville police school resource officer at the alternative school on campus has been a great help to staff in thinking about precautions and being alert to such situations. That alternative school, which is part of the Waterville school system, is on school break this week.

The Children’s Home serves more than 3,000 Maine children and families a year at the Dorothy “Bibby” Alfond Campus and provides parent education and adoption services statewide.

Massey said the emergency response caused great apprehension for employees and parents arriving at the campus and seeing all the emergency vehicles.

“These things are never funny,” he said. “They’re never a joke.”

As police searched buildings, Tyler Mogan, 21, of Belgrade, was standing in the parking lot of the Apollo Salon & Spa next to the Children’s Home campus, looking worried. He asked what was happening, saying that he had his 11-month-old son, Jaxon, in his vehicle and had planned to take him into the child care center.

“I work nights and just woke up and wanted to bring him here,” Mogan said. “I asked what was happening and did not get a response. I figured it was a shooting or a bomb or something.”

He said he lived for four years in Florida, where things were bad, but one does not expect to see such incidents occur in Maine. With recent school shootings and other violence occurring across the country, one never knows, he said.

“I’m just glad everyone’s all right and it wasn’t a shooting or anything,” he said.

Besides The Children’s Place early education center, which serves toddlers and preschoolers, the buildings on campus include The Turner Family Counseling Center, which serves up to 175 children, youth and adults each month, according to Dorian. Also on campus are The Sharon Abrams Teen Parent School Program, which serves up to 15 high school teenage parents and their children during the school year; The Adoption Program, which works with more than 175 families statewide; and The Development Program, which coordinates the Summer Camp Scholarship Program and The Christmas Program.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

 

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