Police: CNN bomb threat was extortion attempt

Police continue to investigate a bomb threat and extortion plot called in early Friday morning to the CNN Center.

Shortly after 4 a.m., police received a call from a person claiming to have planted a chemical bomb somewhere on the campus of the Atlanta landmark, Atlanta Police Capt. Adam Lee III told reporters.

“He threatened to detonate that bomb, and demanded $15,000 and I believe an airline ticket out of town,” Lee said.

Police closed down roads surrounding the CNN Center and adjacent Omni Hotel while teams went floor-by-floor searching for any suspicious items that might be an explosive.

Neither building was evacuated.

By about 5:30 a.m., police completed the search without finding anything and reopened the roads.

The call was unusual, Lee noted.

“He called the Zone 1 precinct” in west Atlanta, Lee said – the CNN Center is in Atlanta Police Zone 5 downtown. “He also called CNN security and made the same threat.”

Police dispatchers receiving the call described the caller as “depressed,” Lee said.

“He made a comment that he was wanted by the federal government for some sort of RICO violation,” he said.

Police will continue attempts to trace the call.

It’s unclear whether the bomb threat was a decoy away from any other crimes, police said.

“We had a robbery earlier that occurred in Zone 2 in the Buckhead area,” Lee said.

That robbery led to a police chase that went south along the Downtown Connector and ended on Macon Road off of Cleveland Avenue.

“I don’t see any reason to believe that it was connected,” Lee said.

Police are still trying to determine the motive for the call, but Lee said police would’ve had the same response regardless of the situation.

“We take any call seriously,” he said. “The one time that you don’t take a call seriously will probably be the one time you regret it.”

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