Multiple bomb scares shut down Schenectady County Community College for three hours Tuesday and caused the evacuation of both local campuses and the downtown Albany extension site.
The college’s main and secondary campuses and the Albany site reopened after police searches resulted in no suspicious items found, and night classes resumed at 6 p.m., Schenectady police said.
The buildings were evacuated after three calls — the first coming at 11:55 a.m. — were made by an unidentified male who said multiple explosive devices had been planted on campus, police said. The caller said the devices would detonate and urged an evacuation of the campus, police said.
After police searches found nothing suspicious, the secondary campus at 433 State St., located inside Center City, was cleared at 1:53 p.m. and the main campus at 78 Washington Ave. was cleared at 3:07 p.m. The Albany site was also cleared, but an exact time could not be learned.
Bomb-sniffing dogs from the Schenectady Police Department, the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police assisted in the search.
“The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority, and we are working closely with Schenectady and Albany police as they conduct their investigation,” SCCC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said in a statement issued during the evacuations.
Jasmine Laborde, a health studies student, was in anatomy and physiology class in the main building when the alarm went off.
“We thought it was a drill,” said Laborde, 31, who gathered with a small group of students at the corner of State Street and Washington Avenue at 1 p.m.
Laborde’s car keys were still in the building and she was waiting for a friend to give her a ride home so she could pick up a spare key. She had been told by first responders that she wouldn't be allowed back in until 6 p.m.
“We left all of our stuff behind,” Laborde said. “That’s why we are still here.”
Across State Street, Kevin Bates sat on the grass, looking across Washington Avenue at the yellow tape that blocked off the main campus building.
Bates, 18, was on the top floor in the hallway when the alarm started ringing. The culinary arts student from Voorheesville described the mood Tuesday as “more ominous than anything.”
“You don’t know if something is going to happen,” he said.