NOTE: This is a developing news story. Check back for updates.
UPDATE: via the Associated Press at 2:04 p.m.:
The Statue of Liberty was evacuated as a precaution on Friday after a bomb threat, forcing hundreds of tourists to be herded off the island.
A 911 caller made the threat late Friday morning, “stating they were going to blow up the Statue of Liberty,” the National Park Service said in a statement.
Federal police, including two canine units, investigated and the dogs found “an area of interest” in a locker area at the statue’s base, the agency said. Law enforcement then decided to evacuate the island.
Nothing harmful was found in the lockers, according to New York Police Department spokesman Steve David, but the bomb squad continued sweeping the area Friday afternoon as a precaution.
A New York Police helicopter circles over Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty was evacuated with officers responding to a report of a suspicious package. | AP
UPDATE via the Associated Press at 1:30 p.m.:
The Statue of Liberty was evacuated Friday as police responded to a report of a suspicious package.
The New York Police Department had boats at the scene. Visitors said hundreds of people were herded toward a ferry landing and off Liberty Island.
NOW: #ESU #Harbor #BombSquad #Aviation responding to #LibertyIsland for susp package job. Island being evacuated pic.twitter.com/39nPmeX43o— NYPD Special Ops (@NYPDSpecialops) April 24, 2015
The National Park Service, which oversees the statue and the island, did not respond to phone and email requests for comment.
John Blount, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was in the statue’s crown, chatting with a park ranger.
“All of a sudden he got a call on his phone,” Blount said. “He said ‘OK’, looked up and said, ‘It’s time to leave.’ We had just made it up there.”
He said it was a very calm evacuation down. They got on a boat, and “we were just floating around out there for the past hour and a half.”
His wife’s purse was in a locker; they had to leave without reclaiming their property.
Eric Gustafson, of Worchester, Massachusetts, was on Liberty Island with his wife and son. They were about to enter the building for the tour when park rangers ushered “everyone to the flagpole” and then told them they had to leave.
“They didn’t give us a reason for it. The communication was lacking,” he said. About 90 minutes later, they were back in Manhattan.
They later saw Twitter accounts about a suspicious package.
“We weren’t nervous. It was mostly just frustrating,” he said, adding that the evacuation was very orderly.
Other tourists said they were taken off boats while trying to leave nearby Ellis Island, then those vessels then were used to evacuate Liberty Island.
Karen Mason, 68, of Cincinnati, Ohio, said they had just boarded a boat at Ellis Island at 12:40 p.m. “All of a sudden, they said ‘Disembark, disembark, disembark. We have to evacuate the boat.'”
She said she didn’t feel like she was in any danger. “But we saw helicopters and we knew something was going on,” she said.
Visitors exit a ferry after New York City police respond to reports of a suspicious package at the Statue of Liberty on Friday, April 24, 2015 in New York.
UPDATE from the Associated Press at 12:40 p.m.:
New York City police say they’re responding to a report of a suspicious package.
The New York Police Department said Friday it had harbor units at the scene, along with the National Park Service.
Visitors are posting photos online showing hundreds of people being herded toward a ferry landing.
Karen Mason, of Cincinnati, Ohio, says the scene was “very orderly.” But some people complained that they were not told what led to the evacuation.
Waiting to be evacuated off #libertyisland. Interesting. pic.twitter.com/C0WAdbZRyB— Rick Borgmeyer (@flyingtigers) April 24, 2015
The last of us are now getting on a boat. #liberty island. pic.twitter.com/Fb5OqnBH1K— Rick Borgmeyer (@flyingtigers) April 24, 2015
Several news and social media reports Friday afternoon show an evacuation underway at Liberty Island, the home of the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Details were not complete early Friday afternoon, though the website Gothamist reported a National parks Service spokesman confirmed a suspicious package investigation was underway.
Being evacuated from Liberty Island New York pic.twitter.com/t4B6XwV9Sh— Karla Chavez (@karscool) April 24, 2015
Telephone bomb threat called into the Statue of Liberty around Noon. NYPD Bomb Squad on scene. Threat mentioned a package inside a locker.— Shawn Nottingham (@NottinghamCNN) April 24, 2015