Lockdown at NEK Human Services

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nek lockdownST. JOHNSBURY – A little after 8:30 Thursday morning the Northeast Kingdom Human Services building was put on lockdown. The lockdown was due to two threatening phone calls that were made to the organization Wednesday night and an additional two that were made on Thursday morning.

 The calls were threats of gun violence towards the facility at 2225 Portland Street in St. Johnsbury. No injuries were reported and a search determined that there were no suspicious individuals or items discovered on the premises. Workers and patients were evacuated from the facility and at around noon, the lockdown was lifted and people were allowed back inside.

"This morning there were actually two additional threats, those were a bit more serious and were targeted to the agency and what we did was we put the entire facility on lockdown, we engaged the local police and the state police, and wanted to make sure we understood the credibility of the threat, " D.W. Bouchard, Chief Executive Officer at the NEK Human Services Saint Johnsbury facility said. "The threat was not credible, so after that three and a half hour span, we were able to rescind the lockdown and return to business."

Vermont State Police in conjunction with police in St. Johnsbury and the Caledonia County Sheriff's department responded to the scene. The departments then conducted a search of the building after escorting all patients and staff out of the building. The investigation into the incident is on-going, but investigators have determined that the call came from outside the country. As for the facility, they're looking at the situation as a learning experience.

"I think we actually worked very closely with law enforcement this time. I think it was handled very well, I am very proud of both State Police and my own staff, as well as the County Sheriff" Bouchard said. "I do believe that we can take this opportunity to learn a few things and to perhaps work even more closely together should this happen again."

The facility is currently open and fully operational, investigators do not believe that there is a continued threat to the building, though the investigation is on-going.