Police: Night of Pistons-Pacers rematch saw four bomb threats
3/26/2005, 2:31 p.m. ET
The Associated Press
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — A bomb threat that delayed the start of the Indiana Pacers first game at The Palace since the November brawl was one of four received that night, police said Saturday.
The first threat, called in to the switchboard at the suburban Detroit arena, delayed the 8:10 p.m. EST start of Friday's game against the Pistons for 1 hour, 25 minutes. The caller said there was a bomb in the Pacers locker room.
"Detectives are working with Palace personnel and their phone provider in an attempt to identify the person who called in the threat," police Lt. James Manning said in a statement Saturday.
The locker room had been searched Friday morning with bomb dogs, and it was searched again later in the afternoon. After the threat was called in about 7:19 p.m., police said the locker room was searched again.
Nothing was found, police said. The Pacers won the game, 94-81. Security had been posted outside the door at all times after the initial search in the morning and during the rest of the day.
"We did not believe the call to be credible due to security measures prior to the game," Manning said.
The caller, if identified, could be charged with making a bomb threat, a felony is punishable by up to 4 years in prison, police said, and could face charges under antiterrorism laws.
Meanwhile, a nonspecific bomb threat was called in to the Auburn Hills Police communications center after news of the first threat had been broadcast by media, Manning said in the Saturday statement.
The Palace switchboard also received two more bomb threats at the end of the game, police said. It does not appear the calls were made by the same person, police said, and all of the calls were being investigated.
A message seeking additional information was left Saturday afternoon with Manning.
Police had discussed the first threat during a news conference at The Palace around the time the night's game started.
Before Friday's game, the Pacers organization decided to have its players leave the building, police said. The Pacers went on and off their bus about three times, according to their bus driver, and once left the loading dock.
Shortly before the scheduled start, Palace officials told the fans that the game would be delayed "due to unforeseen circumstances." Fans were never told why and weren't evacuated from the arena, which was already nearly full.
One of the worst brawls in U.S. sports history broke out when the Pacers visited The Palace on Nov. 19. A melee between the teams spilled into the stands near the end of the game, and back onto the court.
Fans and players stayed where they were supposed to Friday night.