BOSTON (WHDH) – Officials are issuing a strict warning against threats of violence following a bomb threat on Boston Children’s Hospital last month, causing the area around the hospital to shut down.
Federal authorities announced at a news conference Thursday night that police arrested a woman from Westfield, Mass., for calling the hospital on Aug. 30 and making a “telephonic bomb threat.” 37-year-old Catherine Leavy was arrested Thursday morning without incident, weeks after the phoned-in threat placed the hospital and surrounding area on lockdown.
“The caller said, in-part, quote, ‘there is a bomb on the way to the hospital. You better evacuate everybody, you sickos.’” U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Rachael Rollins said, reading from the five-page complaint filed against Leavy.
A bomb squad was soon brought in after the call was reported, closing down roads by the hospital before officials determined no explosive devices were on the premises.
Weeks later, after officials linked the phone call to Leavy’s T-Mobile account, federal and local officials made contact with the suspect at her home in western Mass Thursday morning. According to the complaint, officials said during the morning of her arrest, the suspect admitted that she was the one who called the hospital and made the threat. The FBI and Westfield Police were also able to recover the cell phone allegedly used by Leavy while searching her bedroom.
“Today’s arrest should serve as a strong warning to others that making threats of violence is not a prank,” FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joe Bonavolonta said. “It’s a federal crime and can carry up to five years in a federal prison. Law enforcement must work all threats of violence as a top priority because we never know if the subjects behind them are going to follow through with their actions.”
Bonavolonta said such threats divert law enforcement from actual emergencies, and are costly to tax-payers, among other issues.
Officials at the press conferences Thursday also described how a series of threats targeting Boston Children’s Hospital have been made in recent weeks over the hospital’s surgical program for transgender kids. The FBI said the hoax threats have been popping up in several forms, including harassing phone calls, emails, individual threats and threats of mass casualty events.
“Healthcare providers who support and offer care to gender-diverse and transgendered individuals and their families, deserve to do so without fear,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins.
“No one should have to worry about, when you come into our city, about the safety of our healthcare workers, of patients, of families,” said Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox.
Leavy is currently being held without bail and is scheduled to appear before a federal judge Friday afternoon.
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