Weisman evacuated after bomb threat

Jessica Steeno

A bomb threat led to an evacuation of staff and visitors Tuesday at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum.
An anonymous person phoned the office assistant at the administration desk of the museum at 1:50 p.m. and said there was a bomb in the building. Robert Bitzan, public affairs director at the museum, announced the evacuation shortly thereafter, and about 45 staff members and visitors left the building.
Police and staff determined that the threat was false, and visitors were allowed back in the building at about 3:15 p.m.
Jennifer Rymarkiewicz took the call and said she remembers a man saying there would be a bomb “in the name of Allah” at 2:15 p.m. in the Weisman, and that the threat wasn’t a joke.
“I was scared momentarily,” Rymarkiewicz said. “With the bombing in Atlanta, I think there’s a lot of copycat stuff going on.”
Visitors at the museum said the threat did not frighten them.
“I was kind of irritated,” said Stan Ediger, who was visiting from Eau Claire, Wis. “I don’t get to the Cities very often, and we came to see the museum today.”
A few minutes before the Weisman recieved its call, Minneapolis police received a similar phone threat, said Penny Parrish, Minneapolis police public information officer. She said an anonymous caller claimed there was a bomb in the downtown Minneapolis Norwest Tower in the name of Allah.
Parrish said the callers might have said “in the name of Allah” to shift blame for the incidents away from themselves and onto Muslims.
Minneapolis Deputy Chief Greg Heftness said bomb threats have been occurring in the wake of the recent bombing in Atlanta.
“People hear about these things, and it occurs to them that it’s a fun thing to do, and they do it,” he said.
Bitzan said the museum was probably the target of a bomb threat because it is a popular public destination and very visible.
“We will meet with … the crime prevention unit and see if there is anything we can do to make the building safer,” Bitzan said.
In other police news occurring between July 22 and July 28:
ù Undercover police officers in Dinkytown arrested a man early Sunday morning for stealing a University student’s car.
The victim, a sophomore in the Institute of Technology, was at home Saturday evening “having a few beers,” said one of his roommates.
The victim and other roommates went to bed around 2 a.m. About an hour later, a man entered the house through unlocked sliding glass doors, grabbed a box of Saltine crackers, started eating them and continued to walk around the house, a roommate said. The man then entered the victim’s bedroom, took his wallet and keys and walked out of the house.
Undercover police had been watching the entire incident, the roommate said.
After checking all the cars in the driveway to see which one the keys fit, the man found the victim’s car, started it and began to back out of the driveway. At the end of the driveway, he saw the police officers and asked them for directions. At that time the officers arrested the man, the roommate said.
The man also had property that had been stolen from another southeast home earlier that evening, according to a police report.
ù A man walking down Washington Avenue Southeast was arrested for carrying a full pitcher of beer, according to a University Police report. Officers checked his identification after stopping him and noticed there was a warrant out for his arrest for probation violation.
ù One of two men who allegedly damaged a $600 fraternity house door was arrested after a brief foot chase, according to a Minneapolis police report. The man had been fighting with someone at the fraternity house and admitted he had been drinking heavily. He was charged with disorderly conduct, damage to property and consumption by a minor.