Patrons of the Den were forced to abandon their beer and belongings last Friday evening after a report of a bomb threat was issued by the Calgary Police Service.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 18 Campus Security received a phone call from Calgary Police saying they were en route to the campus responding to a Crime Stopper's tip by an anonymous caller that there was an alleged bomb in the Den.
The caller had reported that while riding the LRT earlier that day, she had heard two males, approximately 24 years old, discussing where they were going to stand when the bomb went off in the Den.
"It seemed a bit unbelievable and out of the ordinary, but by nature bomb threats should be taken seriously so of course we had to take all the necessary precautions," said Campus Security Manager Lanny Fritz.
Campus Security notified the Den staff about the report and when Calgary Police arrived, they quickly evacuated the relatively small crowd of Den patrons.
"They didn't tell us why we were asked to leave, just that we had to do so immediately," said Ken Clarke, who had been sitting at the Black Lounge enjoying a pitcher of beer. "I didn't even have time to grab my backpack."
Clarke, along with others in the Black Lounge, was escorted onto the patio and down the outside stairs, where they joined those who had been escorted from the Den.
While a crowd of Den patrons huddled in the cold about 50 yards from the building awaiting further news, police searched in and around the Den for suspicious packages. When it became clear after half an hour of searching that there was no threat, patrons were allowed back inside.
Clarke noted that his backpack had been removed from the table where he had left it with the contents scattered.
"I was glad to see my backpack had been ransacked because it would have been a perfect place to hide a bomb, so it meant [the police] had actually checked everything," said Clarke.
Business at the Den returned more-or-less back to normal, except the Black Lounge remained closed in order to concentrate security in one area. Upon entry, newcomers were asked to empty their pockets and bags to ensure that nobody was trying to sneak anything in.
Students' Union Vice-President Operations and Finance Joel Lockwood said he believes all the necessary steps were taken to ensure the safety and security of patrons.
"We weren't thinking in terms of lost revenue like some other bars would, we treated the issue with a high level of seriousness and respect," said Lockwood, adding that although it turned out to be a false alarm, no one was willing to take any risks.
The exact conversation overheard by the anonymous caller remains unknown. Fritz believes there is a good chance that it was misheard or misinterpreted by the caller.
"It seems unlikely that two people would be having a serious conversation like that in public, but unfortunately we can't call the caller back to clarify anything," Fritz said. "For all I know, those two guys could have just been saying that they were going to the Den that night to get bombed."