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Hernando County Animal Services evacuated after bomb threat

Tony Holt Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 03:17 PM

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He began with obscene name calling and ended with a death threat.

"There's gonna be a bomb there," the anonymous caller said. "I'm gonna kill everybody, OK? You got the message?"

Hernando County Animal Services was evacuated Friday morning after a man called multiple times and left threatening and vulgar messages on employee voicemails, police said.

The Brooksville Police Department responded around 7:45 a.m. to animal services at 19540 Oliver St. and made a sweep of the building and property.

Nothing was found and employees were allowed to report to work later that morning, said Chief George Turner.

The chief said the caller made references to recent newspaper articles about a dog that had been euthanized at the shelter.

"Someone was unhappy about that," said Turner.

The person who made the calls did so from an unlisted cell phone, according to police.

Turner released one of the recorded messages to local media Friday afternoon.

The same anonymous caller also left a message with Hernando County Fire Chief Mike Nickerson, who supervises the county's animal services.

"He called us killers," Nickerson said. "He said I should be blown up … and he used a few expletives."

Animal services came under fire after stories were published Friday about a dog that was brought to the shelter earlier this month. The owner couldn't keep it any longer and was hoping it could be adopted by another family.

Instead, the dog was euthanized 15 minutes after it was dropped off, according to reports.

Nickerson acknowledged mistakes were made and an investigation is under way.

"It's an unfortunate situation," he said. "The sad part of this whole thing is that statistically, we've seen the number of euthanizations go down."

The angry caller said he would inflict bodily harm against those employed with animal services. Calls were made to five different employee extensions in addition to Nickerson, Turner said.

"You (expletive) scumbags," the caller said on the recorded message released to the media. "I don't know how you can make an error like that."

His tone and language got worse during the last 20 seconds of the call.

"I wish I could kill every mother (expletive) and bomb that (expletive) place," he said. "I'm going to place a bomb and kill everybody. Everybody that works there I'm gonna murder in retribution for this dog … I'm going to place an explosive device and just bomb that place."

Police are tracking down leads, but Turner said he released the one-minute voicemail recording to the local media in the hopes someone will recognize the caller's voice and report it.

If the caller isn't identified, Turner is still confident an arrest will be made in the coming weeks. Identifying a caller from an unlisted cell phone number requires subpoenas, approvals and cooperation from other agencies. He said he hopes to skip those steps.

"We think it will be easier and a lot better for the folks who have been threatened to do it quicker," Turner said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Jeffrey Pasternak at 352-540-3800. (352) 544-5283

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