SOUTH MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Police gave the all clear after they found no threats at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Friday night, hours after the hospital received a bomb threat and a report of an active shooter.
Police have said the evacuation was precautionary after the threats were received. At a press conference at 6:30 p.m., Miami-Dade Police Department Assistant Director Alfredo Ramirez III said that they hoped to be finish clearing the hospital soon so patients and staff can return inside and go back to normal functions.
In a statement, the hospital said, “In an abundance of caution, we contacted law enforcement after receiving a threat to the main hospital. Law enforcement officials have given the all clear for us to resume full operations. We are grateful for the calm and professional conduct of our employees and for the dedication and rapid response of our local police, who share our commitment to the safety and well-being of children.”
Ramirez said there were multiple phone calls in which the caller made threats. He said they received an active shooter call while on the scene but did not hear or find any shooter. “We proactively entered and searched the building through the floors, clearing and looking for a possible subject, and we also did bomb sweep,” he said. “As of this moment, we have not found a subject or any evidence of an explosive.”
An employee outside the hospital said that at around 4 p.m., she heard there was “an active shooter on the third floor,” and she heard on the intercom, “code 13, which means bomb threat.”
Hundreds of hospital personnel were evacuated onto the streets around the hospital. In a situation like this, hospital employees are evacuated but patients are kept in their rooms with their doors locked.
Laritza Vila, whose daughter remained locked inside her room, said the doors of daughter’s room were barricaded, rather than locked. She and other parents were texting with their children inside. “She’s locked inside her room right now,” Vila said. “There’s no door lock. They have tables and chairs up against the doors. She’s with a friend of mine that’s inside the room. They’re calmed down. It’s scary.”
In a statement, police said, “At 2:58 p.m., a call was received regarding a possible bomb threat and a shooting. MDPD is evacuating the hospital as a precaution and have not confirmed any threat or shooting at this time. We are only taking precautionary measures at this time.”
The hospital released a statement saying they are working with law enforcement to ensure the safety of their patients. “We are working closely with local police as they investigate a threat made to the hospital. Together with law enforcement, we are taking measures to safeguard children, families and our staff in light of this situation.”
Speaking via phone MDPD Detective Jennifer Capote said, “Under the conditions that we’re in we’re going to take every precaution possible.”
“They’re going to clear everything,” Capote said.
Cellphone video from the scene during the evacuation shows people gathered outside the hospital, and Miami-Dade Police could be seen running into the building.
There is also video from inside, showing police inside the building.
Police rerouted traffic away from the hospital, located at 3100 S.W. 62nd Ave., in Southwest Miami-Dade. “We’re going to be clearing the hospital as quickly as we can,” said Capote. “Please be patient with us. We’re going to get through this together.”
One woman said her son’s surgery was suspended for a later date due to the evacuation.
“His doctor called me and told me my son was stable,” Vicky Montes said. “He was two hours into the surgery. He still has two more hours to go, but they had to close him up. He told me that they’re in the operating room, and the doctors are there with the patients and nobody comes in, nobody comes out, and they have a lot of police officers and a lot of them outside the room.”
The mother was relieved to hear that her son was stable. “I wanted to hear what I heard, that he’s OK, so thankfully he’s stable, and that’s what important to me. I’m calm now to know,” she said.
Shaniya Woods was all ready to get surgery on her finger when the building was placed on lockdown. She said the IV was already in when they told her to get inside her room and lock the doors. “I thought I was going to die,” she said. “They said, ‘Go in the room and lock the doors.’ I told my mom to text my sister and tell her I love her.”
Woods was taken out into the triage area set up outside the hospital.
Others were forced to stay locked in their room. Richard Mendez, the father of a patient inside, said, “An alarm sounded and [police] said there was a threat and we had to stay inside there.”
Patients with major emergencies were moved to nearby hospitals, while others waited in wheelchairs.
Victor Baranco was about to have surgery on his hand when the lockdown occurred.
“They’re going to put a metal plate right in between,” Baranco said, pointing to his hand.
A nurse said that recent events made the situation more frightening. “It’s scary. Everybody was freaking out,” Gabi Vargez said. “We don’t know, especially with everything that’s going on in the world lately. Everybody just started running out for their lives.”
The nurse also said that police were already on the scene when she exited the hospital. “Police with rifles, guns and all the police running and cars going over the grass and everything where we were standing,” she said.
Police appeared to have cleared the research building next to the hospital as well.
At around 8 p.m., police gave the all-clear. The hospital has resumed normal operations.
Baranco and others wondered why someone would put so many people at risk. “There’s kids that have fevers standing out in the sun,” Baranco said.
Now police want to find the person who put so many people at risk with this threat. If you have any information that could help investigators, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.
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