The utter chaos associated with an incident like a bomb scare being called in to a college is luckily something that Keene State College does not frequently experience. However, in 1973, the school experienced not one, but over a dozen bomb scares called in to campus buildings within the span of one week.
Throughout the week of Feb. 26, fourteen separate bomb scares were called in to eight different Keene State College campus buildings, seven of them occurring within one day. The buildings involved included Carle Hall, Randall Hall, the Student Union and Monadnock Hall, where three of the bomb scares took place on Friday.
While most of the calls were placed using pay phones, one passed through the town’s switchboard, and another was made directly to the Keene police station. An article from The Equinox about the bomb scares detailed what Douglas Fish, a detective employed by the Keene police department at the time of the incidents, had to say regarding the motivation behind the calls.
“This person making the calls is doing it for a purpose and not a joke,” Fish said, adding that the caller was “trying to inconvenience everybody.”
After the second bomb scare, which was called in to Carle Hall, the building was evacuated and promptly searched by Keene police and fire officials. Controversy arose after private rooms in the residence hall were searched without permission, where officials confiscated property including marijuana plants and stolen street signs.
The stolen street signs that were also confiscated by Keene police and fire officials were done so in the name of safety.
“Suppose it was a stop sign. Look at the loss of life stealing them could cause,” said Donald G. Ficke, the Keene Police Chief at the time, said. “A stranger might not stop at an intersection, if there were no sign to warn him.”
Although marijuana plants, contraband and paraphernalia were confiscated during the bomb searches, Ficke was adamant that the rumors going around about police raids disguised as bomb sweeps were false.
The possession of marijuana plants was a felony, and though officials could have prosecuted the students who were allegedly guilty of this act, Detective Fish explained that the police had no intentions of pursuing legal process. He also said that the confiscated marijuana plants were to be destroyed in a controlled burning.
Kyle McNamara can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org