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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, November 29, 2023


A bomb threat halted Saturday night's "Women in Reggae" show only 20 minutes into the Reichhold Center performance.
The center was cleared and police were called, but 20 minutes later — with police still not there — a second threat was phoned in, according to Renee Heider, Reichhold's program director.
That aborted the performance altogether, but the show was rescheduled for Sunday night.
Pamela Toussaint, box office manager, took both calls.
"At first I thought it was phony, but then I started thinking we have to get everybody out," Toussaint said of the first call. A male voice said "there's a bomb in the building. You have to get out."
Heider immediately called 911, the police emergency number. She had to go through five dispatchers before she got someone to take her name and the information, she said.
In the meantime, the audience of about 600 people were moved from the theater to the concession area where they waited for the police. People left their seats in an orderly fashion, with no panic, several attendees said.
Fifteen minutes later, the police still hadn't come, Heider said, so she called them again. Moments after that the second bomb threat was called in.
This time Toussaint said the voice threatened, "You have two minutes to evacuate the building." Toussaint said the caller had a Caribbean accent and was well-spoken.
After the second threat, the audience was moved to the parking lot area.
When the police arrived, 45 minutes after the first call for help, they did not have any police dogs with them, according to Heider.
"At that point we knew we'd have to call off the show," she said.
Stephanie Scott-Williams, who was in the audience, said, "It was very disappointing. It took the V.I.'s finest a long time to get there."
Scott-Williams said, "My first thought was, 'A bomb threat in St. Thomas? Really?' But you can't take these things lightly."
She said she's definitely going back tonight.
"I was just getting into the groove," she said.
Betty Mahoney, another attendee, said, "I was angry because of the slow response of the police. Where was the ambulance? Where were the fire trucks and the emergency vehicles?"
A call Sunday to police central command to acting Police Commissioner Franz Christian or acting Police Chief Jose Garcia did not result in a return call from either one. They do not have listed phone numbers and there was no answer at the commissioner's office.
The show went on Sunday night. Security was beefed up and the entire area combed again in the late afternoon to make sure everything was safe, according to Toussaint.
"I'll be there," Mahoney said Sunday morning.

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