Bomb scare evacuates school, clinic

By JESSICA WESTON News Review Correspondent

Bomb scare evacuates school, clinicHeatherstone Medical Clinic and Heritage Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten were evacuated Friday morning after a suspicious device was reported outside the clinic.

The Ridgecrest Police Depart-ment and China Lake Explosive Ordnance Disposal responded to the scene, but in the end the device was determined to be inert.

According to Sgt. Jed McLaughlin, the police received a report of a suspicious object in the trees near Heatherstone. “Basically, it looked like a ‘Piccolo Pete’ type thing,” McLaughlin said, describing it as a bottle with what appeared to be a fuze, duct-taped around “so [no one] could see inside.”

“That’s why we called EOD,” McLauglin said.

“Everybody was right in the middle of a busy morning,” when the incident occurred, according to Heatherstone’s Dr. Doug Roberts.

Patient Darren Swafford, hampered by a cast and crutches because of a broken heel, was consulting Roberts about something else when the order to evacuate went down. “I grabbed my crutches and hobbled out as fast as I could go. As soon as I heard ‘evacuate,’ I’m moving.” Swafford said.

“A policeman and [someone from] EOD came to the school,” said Barbara Martin, director of Montessori. “They wanted to know if we had any children [here], and I said, ‘We do.’ They said. ‘You have to evacuate.’”

Martin and her staff walked approximately 70 preschool- and kindergarten-aged children to nearby Heritage Park. “Everybody was calm, cool and collected,” she said. “The children did a beautiful job. They thought we were going on a field trip to a park.”

According to McLaughlin, China Lake EOD checked the object with a “robot,” and removed the device, allowing everyone to return to their buildings.

EOD personnel determined that there was no explosive, according to McLaughlin. He said RPD is conducting an investigation.

Story First Published: 2013-09-11