Dallas Police and Major League Gaming tournament officials confirmed that a bomb threat hoax prompted the evacuation of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on Friday evening. The Dallas Police Department released a statement confirming that emergency dispatchers received "a call about a bomb threat" just after 4 p.m. on Friday from the downtown convention center where Major League Gaming was holding a tournament for its Call of Duty World League.
The convention center security evacuated the convention center and conducted a sweep of the building with the DPD's bomb squad and K-9 units, according to DPD.
Update: bomb squad and K-9 are continuing their search of the convention center. No explosive device found thus far. The search continues.— Dallas Police Dept (@DallasPD) December 9, 2017
Officials for Major League Gaming could not comment beyond confirmation of the building's evacuation. They noted on their Twitter account that the World League tournament scheduled to start on Friday has been postponed to 10 a.m. Saturday, with doors open at 8 a.m.
Stephen Simmons, a pro-gamer from Denton with the Ghost Gaming team who was scheduled to compete in his first pro-tournament before security evacuated the convention center, says that he and his teammates had just finished their first round of games when they first heard the building alarms. They weren't sure if it was part of the noise of a pro-gaming tournament, a prank or the real thing.
"All of a sudden, you heard the fire alarms go off but it kind of sounded like someone making an announcement like in school where they deliver a tone and someone delivers a message," Simmons says. "Nobody could really hear what the announcement was over the commotion of the crowd."
The emergency PA system tried to deliver a second announcement about the evacuation but when that failed, convention center security officials started ordering everyone to evacuate. Simmons says police pushed back the crowd more than two blocks away from the convention. He describes the scene as "restless" and "frustrating."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
He had no idea what prompted the evacuation until he went back to his car to recharge his phone and read the news on Twitter.
"This is my first major event so it kind of sucked," Simmons says. "If you think about the hours and hours of practice and all the time getting ready for this event and this is an open so as long as you have a team pass, anyone can compete for the $200,000. So just think of all the time, money and gathering resources just to get here and a lot of teams didn't get to play yet."
At 8:50 p.m. DPD issued a statement about the incident, calling it a hoax.
On December 8, 2015, at approximately 3:55 p.m., an unknown suspect called the administration office of the convention center stating that he had placed two backpacks of explosives inside the convention center, and that it was due to go off in 30 minutes. The employee of the convention center notified their security personnel and a decision was made to self-evacuate the convention center. Dallas police was notified and responded to the scene. After a preliminary search of the facility, they located multiple backpacks in the convention center that gave them concern. The responding officers notified the Explosive Ordinance Squad (EOS).
Shortly after 8:00 p.m., EOS completed their searched of the convention center and determined that there were no explosive devices. A Hoax Bomb Threat offense will be generated on case number 279086-2017.