On Friday around 11 a.m., the National Park Service at the Statue of Liberty was targeted by a bomb threat called into a 911 dispatcher. The caller said "they were going to blow up the Statue of Liberty." As a result, Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty were evacuated, the Service said in a statement.
Park Police along with two canine units swept the Statue and alerted authorities to an "area of interest" at the locker area near the base of the Statue. Park Police did not disclose what was found in the lockers, they simply said: "At this point, [authorities] determined it was best to evacuate the island." Multiple social media reports indicated that a "suspicious package" was found in the lockers.
The island was cleared of both visitors and employees as a precaution, all who were present have been accounted for and are safe.
While some reports indicated Ellis Island was also being evacuated, the National Park Service said Ellis Island was not under immediate danger and did not require evacuation. A police officer at the scene also said tourists were not being evacuated from Ellis Island, clarifying that some of the boats there were used to transport those on Liberty Island.
"Federal Park Police are investigating the package and we are assisting," a New York Police Department public information officer told Newsweek.
Nancy Campbell and Jane Nelson, tourists visiting New York from Ontario, told Newsweek they were on Liberty Island during the incident. As they approached the base of the statue, law enforcement agents that looked like "SWAT" told them to go back. "He said 'there's an issue,'" Campbell said of the officer.
A ticketing staff member told Newsweek he estimated that over 500 people were evacuated from Liberty Island. Hornblower Cruises, parent company of Statue Cruises, did not reply to request for confirmation of the staffer's estimate.
"As the authorized ferry operator of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, our first priority is the safety and well being of all of our visitors,” Mike Burke, COO/VP of Statue Cruises, told Newsweek. “Officials have found a suspicious package at Liberty Island and are currently investigating the situation. As a precaution, we are currently postponing all service to Liberty Island until the investigation is complete.”
Other boats, such as water taxis, continued to use the water ways around Liberty Island. Liberty Island will reopen to the public on Saturday.
Came over to go up into the statue of liberty only to have everyone evacuated off liberty island. Swat team here. #whatsgoingon— Brett B (@bartholomew37) April 24, 2015
Being evacuated from Liberty Island New York pic.twitter.com/t4B6XwV9Sh— Karla Chavez (@karscool) April 24, 2015