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Bomb scare halts UNR graduation

TERI VANCE

A bomb scare forced the evacuation of nearly 4,000 people from Lawlor Events Center on Saturday just as the University of Nevada, Reno’s commencement ceremony was scheduled to begin.

Shortly after 9 a.m., guests and graduates were told to leave “quickly and quietly.”

According to campus police, officials received three phone calls between 7:05 and 9 a.m. warning of a bomb.

“You have to understand that national issues affect us locally,” said Todd Renwick, assistant chief of the UNR Police Department. “Nobody wants to wonder if they made the right decision. We’ve taken the precautions we needed to take.”

The ceremony was rescheduled to 2 p.m. when all but one entrance to the building were blocked off.

Security officers checked bags at the door.

“We don’t want to jeopardize the integrity what we’ve just done here,” Renwick explained.

Fred Perdomo, vice principal of Carson High School was there to watch his son, Rick, receive his bachelors degree.

“I’ve been to enough bomb training to know that this is the last thing you do when a threat is called in,” he said. “It must have been pretty credible.”

His wife, Chris, said she understood the reasoning behind the decision but was still upset.

“We had plans for a get-together right after. We have reservations,” she said. “I can’t believe someone could pull this on such a special day.”

Joe Potvin traveled from Bark River, Mich., to share the day with his daughter, Janelle, who received her bachelors degree.

“It’s a little inconvenient,” he acknowledged. “But we can handle inconveniences.”

As the ceremony reconvened at 2 p.m., President John Lilley explained the university’s decision.

“For your safety, we needed to do that,” he said. “Let’s don’t let that mar this day.”

Adolfo Segura, a 1996 Carson High School graduate, didn’t let it mar his day.

“Of course it was worth it,” he said, shortly after receiving his journalism diploma. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for seven years. It’s still exciting.”

Contact Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1272.