Bomb threat at UCLA triggers evacuations to stadium and stirs fear: 'No one really knew what to do'

Police responded to a bomb threat at a UCLA recreation center Wednesday night and university officials evacuated several residence halls at the Westwood campus.

A UCLA Bruin Alert — the campus emergency notification system — was issued about 12:20 a.m. Thursday, announcing that the threat was unfounded and students could return to their dorms.

The first emergency alert was issued shortly after 10 p.m., telling the university community about the bomb threat at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.

The threat was phoned into the campus police station’s dispatch center, said University of California at Los Angeles police Capt. Bob Leinweber. More than a dozen residence halls were evacuated, officials said.

Police searched the recreation center with four bomb-detecting dogs, and just before midnight, said that no explosives had been found so far.

“We’ve just about concluded the search and nothing found,” Leinweber added.

The Bruin Alert system announced just after midnight that residents of two dormitories, Dykstra Hall and De Neve Plaza, could return.

“Others will be allowed to reenter as they are determined to be safe,” the alert said.

Drake Stadium, where a large crowd of evacuated students had gathered, erupted in cheers when it was announced that students could return to some of the residence halls.

“We’re free,” someone shouted.

Lemoine Dillon, 19, was staying in the Rieber Vista residence hall when the fire alarm sounded. She was among hundreds of people directed to the stadium. Others were taken to a nearby tennis court, she said.

Dillon said the dorms were filled with a range of residents, including those like her who were enrolled in a summer pre-dental course.

She estimated that some in the dorms were between eight and 12 years old and staying on campus for summer programs and sports camps. Many kids were crying as the dorm was evacuated, she said.

“It was really hectic cause no one really knew what to do or where we were going,” Dillon said.

About 30 minutes after the first alert, a second notice was issued stating that the “situation is still active.”

Aerial images on local television showed a cluster of residence halls with emergency lights flashing inside.

The telephonic bomb threat comes hours after the conclusion of the first orientation program for new UCLA students. The next three-day orientation program for new students is scheduled to begin July 19, according to the university’s website.

Times staff writer Alene Tchekmedyian reported from Westwood.

alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

​​​​​​​matt.hamilton@latimes.com

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UPDATES:

12:20 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details about students returning to dorms.

12:05 a.m.: This article was updated with Capt. Bob Leinweber’s comments and details about students returning to some dorms.

11:35 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from witnesses on campus.

11:15 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details.

10:45 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Brian Haas.

This article was originally updated at 10:25 p.m.

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