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Bomb threat at the Presque Isle Downs & Casino

Senior Reporter

“False alarm” is the best thing to hear after a bomb threat, and thankfully the Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Pennsylvania have been able to reassure guests that the menacing call was nothing but a fluke.

Bomb threat at the Presque Isle Downs & Casino
Presque Isle Downs & Casino Building. Image: tripadvisor.com

On Saturday, June 26th, the casino received a bomb threat that led to a quick evacuation at around 10 pm as the PSP began inspecting the entire building. The threat is currently being investigated, and Presque Isle Downs & Casino has opened the doors right back up early Sunday since no explosives were located. It appears that the reported bomb threat was bootless, but there is no way to tell if it was a forewarning for something that may still come up. 

“For the safety of our guests and team members, we evacuated the building while Pennsylvania State Police investigated. The bomb squad was called in, which utilized three K-9s and deemed the threat was unfounded.” was a statement given by the casino’s representative, Jennifer See.

Where the bomb threat came from is still unclear, and it’s possible that it may have just been a distraction of some sort. However, Presque Isle Downs & Casino didn’t panic too much and is now working on refunding guests that made bets at the time of the event. The facility has been closed for months during the lockdown, and the operator isn’t willing to go back into hibernation. 

Any guest who would have been on property during that time can visit Guest Services to retrieve any monies left at the table games or in the slot machines from safekeeping. We just ask for your patience while we go through all the transactions.

The Presque Isle Downs and Casino isn’t the first facility to receive suchlike threats this month, as Town Pump in Butte also had to evacuate earlier this week.

This is no reason to panic, as operators have a system that will quickly get everyone out safely if a similar event occurs. Most times, those sending out threats simply want to create a diversion to commit a crime nearby or get ransom money from the targeted facility.

Don’t let events such as this one keep you from going out and living your life. The bad news is that this can happen anywhere. However, the ceiling can come crashing down on you in your own home. There are risks everywhere you go, but looking out, being vigilant and following directions from law enforcement will keep you safe in most cases.

Keep in mind that every legal casino has concise emergency plans and safety procedures in place in case there is ever a bomb threat. You can also learn how to better protect yourself by learning about the bomb threat guidance.

Update:

Two individuals in Erie County were charged for calling in with a baseless bomb threat that forced the Isle Downs & Casino guests and staff to evacuate. Norman A. Antuzzi, 48, and Parlee Jo Ferko, 38, both got third-degree felonies for terroristic threats and causing unnecessary chaos on a peaceful Saturday evening that cost the casino more than $100,000 in lost revenue.

Parlee also got a third-degree misdemeanor of disorderly conduct.

Antuzzi was arrested with a $50,000 bond, whereas Parlee got away with a “discount” - a $25,000 unsecured bond. Investigators reported that the two “buddies” were responsible for a bomb threat that was called into the facility and prompted Explosive-detection dogs from Lawrence County and Chautauqua County to scope the property along with the evacuation.

Authorities also reported that the casino’s bartender, named Ferko, was exchanging messages/emails with Antuzzi, a former casino employee, not long before the incident. Antuzzi used to work at Presque Isle Downs & Casino some time ago, and the two were complaining about the workplace hours before the incident. Information was released stating that Antuzzi asked Parlee Ferko if she wanted him to call in a bomb threat. To which Ferko jokingly replied, “LOL” (Laughing out loud).

The attorney representing Parlee claimed that it was a misunderstanding, "My client’s response to him was 'LOL,' and not simply 'yes. She believed it to be made in jest and not at all serious. We will vigorously defend this case on her behalf as she did not conspire with him at all."

Whether Parlee meant this as a joke or not, she will certainly be facing the consequences due to indirectly agreeing and not reporting the potential threat. There will be nothing to “LOL” about now.

According to the police affidavit, investigators found out that Antuzzi made the phone call from a small store near his residence. He borrowed one of the employees’ phones and called in a bomb threat. This was captured on the store’s camera during the time of the instant evacuation, so there’s absolutely no doubt about Antuzzi’s involvement.

Antuzzi and Ferko are facing a hearing on July 7 before Summit Township District Judge Brian McGowan. Parlee’s lawyer is adamant about vigorously defending her side, as he believes she did not conspire with Antuzzi at all. Whether or not she was involved, it’s a good lesson to never joke around when it comes to bomb threats.

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