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Federal building security tightened

April 20, 1995

Federal officials throughout the country searched bags, eyed identification cards closely and, in some cities, evacuated 1 buildings after the Oklahoma City explosion Wednesday.

White House spokesman Mike McCurry said President Clinton ordered tightened security at federal buildings after the blast.

"We have directed that federal buildings take any necessary precautions," McCurry said. "Obviously, the president's first and foremost concern is that everything be done to assist those who had been victims. "

At the State Department, counterterrorism experts stood ready to chase leads around the world.

"All of us are very concerned this might be an incident of international terrorism," said an official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Telephone bomb threats led authorities to evacuate government buildings in New York; Detroit; Omaha, Neb.; Wilmington, Del.; Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Portland, Ore.; Cincinnati; Dayton, Ohio; Steubenville, Ohio; Fresno, Calif.; East Palo Alto, Calif.; Riverside, Calif.; and Santa Ana, Calif.

A federal building in Boston and Boston City Hall were evacuated after "certain doors and things" that should have been locked were found to be open, said Bob Dunfey, regional administrator for the General Services Administration.

"Apparently, the copycats are out there, and they're driving everyone nuts," Boston Fire Chief Robert Winston said.

Attorney General Janet Reno said all of the telephone threats apparently were hoaxes perpetrated by "copycats. " Authorities so far have discovered no links to the Oklahoma City blast, she said.

Soon after reports of the Oklahoma City disaster reached Denver, deputy U.S. marshals carrying shotguns and automatic rifles began guarding the federal building and adjacent U.S. courthouse.

Federal Protective Service officers were seen in larger numbers than usual at another federal office building across the street.

Guards were posted at three day-care centers operated for federal employees in Denver and one in Ogden, Utah, where the Internal Revenue Service has a large facility, according to a federal regional spokesman.

One parent told Denver's KOA radio station that she removed her child from one of those centers because of the parent's apprehension.

Denver is the regional headquarters for several government agencies, most of which are located 1 at a large campus in a suburb.

About 8,500 federal employees work in Denver.

"This (the disaster) reminds us just as citizens we have to be anti-terrorist all the time," said the U.S. marshal for Colorado, Tina Rowe.

The Bonfils Blood Center, a large regional blood supply center in Denver, said many people had donated blood .

In other cities, business continued as usual, but some employees confessed they were nervous.

"I know if I am, other people are," said Larry Burns, chief deputy of the U.S. Marshal's Office in South Bend, Ind. Burns' office runs security for five federal courthouses.

"Everybody is talking about it," said Dianne Kenny, an accounting technician with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha. "It is just scary that it could happen here. You don't look for that to happen in the Midwest. "

In Omaha, Indianapolis and Des Moines, Iowa, parents rushed to retrieve children enrolled in day-care centers housed in federal buildings.

"We are scared to death," said Elizabeth Horne, an employee at the Indianapolis federal building. "Lots of parents have taken their kids out for the day. "

"We're just keeping our eyes open a little more," said Marvin Lutes, chief deputy at the U.S. Marshal's Service office in St. Louis, which protects that city's federal courthouse.

"I just have chills," said a clerk at the federal courthouse in Greeneville, Tenn. "This is just little Greeneville, Tennessee, but it could happen here. We're all very worried. "

In Washington, officials scrambled to account for colleagues, and clients, inside the Oklahoma City building.

Oklahoman special correspondent Robert E. Boczkiewicz


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