A faulty bank fax printed a message that was misinterpreted as a bomb threat Wednesday, leading authorities to evacuate more than a dozen neighboring businesses and a day care center.
The branch manager of the Bank of America called police about 10 a.m. after receiving a fax containing images of a lit match and a bomb with a fuse, bank spokesman Ernesto Anguilla said.
But text explaining the fax was an internal bank promotion failed to transmit. The missing text included the phrases “The countdown begins” and “Small business commitment week June 4-8,” according to a copy circulated by police.
“The fax machine malfunctioned, so a partial image came through that looked somewhat suspicious,” Anguilla said.
Fears also arose because the branch received a suspicious package delivered by a customer around the same time, police said. A State Police bomb squad searched the bank branch and checked out the package, which was a delivery of documents.
About 15 small businesses in a shopping plaza were evacuated for about three hours, including a day care center with about 30 children, Police Chief Scott Rohmer said.
The fax was sent to the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank’s branches in parts of New England, New York and New Jersey. It did not result in any other bomb scares at other branches, Anguilla said.