Bomb Scare Causes Disruption In the Force

Picture%202.pngA bag of clothes, not a thermo nuclear detonator, caused disruption during opening ceremonies at the Star Wars Celebration IV in downtown L.A.

CBS2 reports that the LAPD bomb squad was call in after a suspicious package was found outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center Friday night. The package turned out to be a bag of clothes, and some streets were closed causing some disruption for the Star Wars Celebration attendees nearby.

However, one blogger’s account details a much wider level of panic, with conflicting details.

Brandon Weaver writes that near chaos broke out when he was stopped at the front door after waiting in line for opening ceremonies last night, an even attended by Mayor Villaraigosa and featured the USC marching band, along with hundreds of marching stormtroopers and others dressed as characters fromt the Star Wars film. Brandon adds that up to 1500 were still behind him in a line that stretched for blocks, while inside the convention hall was only 60% full.

With no explanation, and a staff that seemed as confused as attendees, people were kicked out of the building after the event began having to leave their bags behind.

From Brandon:

I gathered from overheard conversations that the parking garages, like the building, had been evacuated, and no one was allowed to their cars. The man in the blue shirt confirmed this. People were not allowed into the building, or to the parking garages. It was all being taped off by police. The LAPD was to blame. Not the Star Wars Celebration Staff. Still, no one knew why…

We waited. The building was taped off. Firetrucks and Police cars were everywhere. Flares where on the road, blocking all traffic… Bomb squad SUV’s started showing up. I personally saw two, people claimed there was four. The “bomb threat” theory floated through the crowd. One man theorized the bomb threat was called in from a “bent Trekkie”.

We went up to a policeman and asked if he knew anything. He said curtly “I’m not allowed to tell you.”

After a few minutes, the cop confessed:

Finally, and quite unexpectedly, he told us there was a “package”, and the police wanted to investigate it. He pointed to another gentleman walking past, “it’s about 3 times bigger than the pack he’s wearing. Do you know how much C4 you could put into that? 60-70lbs worth. They’ve been hosing it down with water and know the bomb squad is here.”

Considering the convention was full of armed stormtroopers, many carrying prop thermonuclear detonators, and even more odd shaped backpacks and containers, its surprising that of all things a bag of clothes is what caused the largest disruption at the event.

But is that how the police deal with 60-70 pounds of explosive, by getting it wet?

…photo by Thistledown, used under Creative Commons

3 Replies to “Bomb Scare Causes Disruption In the Force”

  1. Just to add more to this. My friend and I were 50 feet away from the door when we were stopped by large security goons in red/maroon jackets. They pushed us away from the overcrowded hall and told us to step six people back from the door, then white collared ushers/bouncers and further security came up, blocked the way, and closed the halls doors. Then they forced us against the West wall in rows of six telling us to leave, but the merchandise/bags that we HAD to check in were not checked back to us.
    We were escorted out in a rude and unproper fashion to the street outside the LAC where we were pushed into the street with oncoming traffic. No security stopped cars nor did LAPD assist in the so-called “evacuation”.
    Before being removed we were given a first day issue stamp of Queen Padme from the US post office SW collection and that was only 100 given out to the crowd of many.
    Now what is very apparent is that Friday was oversold. No question about it.
    The hall holding the celebration had an occupancy of 6500 people and there was over 35k+ in attendance this day.
    The red lanyard holders (5 DAY passes) were not given special treatment over one day passes nor was there any special consideration for us and severasl I spoke to at SW C-4 will start a writing campaign to Lucas aka the Maker himself on the treatment that occurred and standards that need to be implemented for the next Celebration in 2010.
    The attendees I spoke to on Saturday who were part of the rejected believe that the promoters called the threat in because the last Celebration held had this same event happen and a small riot occurred with damages to the convention hall.
    Three attendees who got into show got their piece of free cake but were never evacuated. They added there was a good 1000 seats left empty???

    The day after this fiasco the line guards were clicking off attendee numbers who were waiting in line for the doors to open.

    The seminars that were held that had exclusive coins/medallions/whatever never had the proper occupancy seating and those in charge were pocketing the prizes and not giving them out to the fans.

    On a positive note the Celebration was a fan event from all corners of the science fiction and fantasy galaxy. Several thousand talented individuals walked the halls and posed for pictures. The celbrities nevert refused a photo request or a handshake.

    The Hall exhibitors were gracious and just the best, but in the end what occurred Friday, and since Thursday, has marred what could’ve been the greatest celebration of Star Wars fandom.

  2. I went to the first two Star Wars Celebrations, and while there were no bomb threats, they were nearly as chaotic as this one. That’s one reason why, despite this one being practically in my back yard – within public transportation distance – I didn’t go to this one.

    Attendance has never been limited, it was nearly impossible to get into the rooms where an actor was speaking. That there was only one presentation at a time, rather than several as with larger cons such as ComicCon, contributed to the overcrowding and subsequent disappointment when the room was full and fans had really nowhere else to go but the dealer’s or exhibitor’s room, which also had large, slow moving lines. At the first one, dealers were pretty much limited to official Star Wars stuff, so that limited selection as well.

    Volunteers and staff, while well-meaning, never seemed to have any clue what was going on. If you were lucky, they could tell you what the interminable line you were standing in was for.

    For Celebration I, buyers of the weekend pass were promised exclusive figures (which they ran out of, angering people that had stood in line for hours) and a unique exclusive collectible badge which would be one of only, say 1000, ever produced. I was offered $500 for it at a con I went to a couple months after Celebration I. I hoarded it greedily, and then kicked myself multiple times when “replica” badges were offered by Lucas that Xmas. Yeah, some exclusive.

    The second celebration gave them time to iron out the problems, which they didn’t actually do. (well,the dealer’s room had improved). I expected this one to be run better, since the previous ones I believe were run by the Luca$ organization, and this one by GenCon. I think the overselling of the event contributed to at least 20-30% of the kerfuffle this weekend.

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