Crown Melbourne Is Evacuated Due to a Bomb Scare
A 55-year-old Malaysian man started a bomb scare in Crown Melbourne casino yesterday. That man faces a hearing in an Australian court today, after being charged with forced mass evacuation of Melbourne’s Crown Casino.
The man, whose name has yet to be released, had a backpack and was reported to be behaving “erratically”. He indicated to other patrons that his backpack might have contained a bomb.
Around 3:30pm in the afternoon, police responded to multiple reports that a suspicious man was behaving suspiciously on the first floor of the Crown Melbourne, the largest land-based casino in Australia.
Members of Victoria’s Special Operation Group (SOG), Melbourne’s Critical Incident Response (CIR), and the Melbourne police’s bomb squad arrived on the scene and arrested the man. When police investigated, they found no sign of a bomb inside the man’s backpack.
Crown Melbourne Closed for Hours
Nevertheless, Crown Casino was closed for a time, to allow Victorian authorities to sweep for bombs. Several hours after an evacuation which caused frantic guests and workers out into the streets, the Crown Casino was officially deemed safe by police at about 7:20pm. Special Operations Group officers were said to have left the casino’s Clarendon St. entrance just after 7pm.
A police spokesperson said, “Police are in the process of clearing the scene and Crown Casino will reopen to the public shortly.”
Bomb Robot Checked for Bombs
Ann and Barbara Hodgson, a pair of sisters visiting the Crown Casino at the time, said they saw the “bomb robot” enter the first floor of the casino somewhere around 6pm. Barbara Hodgson said, “It came up on its tractor wheels and went through the front door.”
The Hodgson sisters said the robot stayed for roughly an hour, before it left with the Special Operations Groups.
Suspect Did Not Resist Arrest
David Clayton, Melbourne Acting Commander, said incident was very controlled with no injuries to the suspect, police or public. The charged man did not resist arrest.
It was reported that the man in question was heard “making statements”, which caused alarm among the guests and casino staff. Some reports suggested the man indicated he had a bomb of some sort in his backpack, though those reports remain unverified at this time.
Acting Commander David Clayton said, “It was the way he was acting and behaving … he complied with the police request when we arrested him.”
David Clayton on Bomb Scare
Clayton asked people to stay clear of the Southbank side of Crown Casino until the area was cleared by authorities and deemed safe.
The police commander said the investigation was still ongoing and authorities would not yet rule out the possibility of other arrests. Clayton would not confirm whether or not Counter Terrorism was involved in the investigation.
It was reported that the first floor, cinemas, and other areas on the Southbank promenade were all evacuated to the street. Some guests and workers sheltered inside the building, though most were removed entirely from the casino-resort.
Restaurant Owner Described Bomb Scare
Gaurav Dhawan, a worker at the Italian restaurant, Cervo, located on the first floor, was working when he and his colleagues received an automated text message from the Crown Casino alerting him that he needed to evacuate.
Dhawan said, “At first, I thought it was a hoax. It was pretty scary, we didn’t know what was going on.”
Dhawan said he and other staff members had to tell diners in the restaurant to leave their meals and evacuate the building immediately. Other workers in the food court said they saw guests and employees running for the doors immediately after receiving an emergency text message from the casino.
A Rare Evacuation at Crown Casino
Rex Chauasoodhe said he had worked at the casino for over 9 years and this was the first time that he had been evacuated.
Mr. Chauasoodhe said, “We didn’t know what was going on, all of a sudden people just started running. We still don’t know what’s going on, we haven’t been told anything since the text message.”
Paul Filakis was in the cinema when the incident occurred. Like the others, the filmgoer was forced to evacuate. Filakis said, “I was watching a movie with my wife for our anniversary. We were told there was an incident and we needed to evacuate. We couldn’t get any more information.”
The unidentified Malaysian man was charged with making threats to kill, making false reports to police, and making false statements. He was jailed and will appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court later today.