A bomb threat that interrupted a concert at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Saturday involved a woman claiming her son was at the venue with a bomb, a theater spokeswoman said.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles was beginning its 2 p.m. matinee concert when the stage curtain partially came down and an employee informed the audience of the threat. A phone call had come into the venue’s box office around 2:15 p.m. claiming a bomb was in the building, according to Elissa Glickman, chief executive of Glendale Arts.
“A woman was in tears saying her son was attending the event and she thought he had a bomb,” she said.
Glickman said the Glendale Police Department was immediately called after the threat was received, and about 700 people were evacuated from the theater.
The streets surrounding the venue were blocked off and officers conducted a search of the building. Glendale Police Sgt. Dan Suttles said a bomb-sniffing dog from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was brought in to aid in the efforts.
“We did a full sweep of the building, and those types of things by nature take a long time,” he said.
By 5:30 p.m., Suttles said, no devices or suspicious items were found, and the building was cleared for reentry.
Jonathan Weedman, executive director of the Gay Men’s Chorus, said because the evacuation was in the middle of their performance, members of the group had to wait while still in costume and without their cellphones or wallets.
He praised the Glendale community for helping the marooned group during the incident.
“There was a local hotel that opened up and welcomed a bunch of the guys who were in costume to come there to cool off — and gave them robes to wear,” Weedman said. “A restaurant … offered free lunch for all the guys because they didn’t have any money.”
The bomb threat was a first for both the chorus and the theater. Glickman and Weedman said their respective organizations have safety protocols in place in the event of emergencies and they will both review additional precautions in the wake of the incident.
While police said no suspects or motive have been identified in the threat, Weedman said it was possible the chorus was targeted.
“As a LGBTQ organization we are a lightning rod,” he said.
Although the 2 p.m. concert was cancelled, the chorus went on to perform later that night and again on Sunday afternoon. Concertgoers to the cancelled performance had the opportunity to go to the other shows, have their tickets refunded or donate the money back to the group.
Weedman said it never occurred to the chorus to cancel or postpone the performances in light of the incident. He said several dozens of people returned to the subsequent concerts.