Dubuque bomb scare could have been a misunderstanding - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque bomb scare could have been a misunderstanding

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- We have new details after that bomb scare in Dubuque. It's looking like the whole thing started out as a huge misunderstanding.

68-year-old Langsy Souttathamma is charged with false reporting. Police say his comments led to last night's bomb scare on the streets of Dubuque.

According to the most recent court documents. He lives in East Moline, Illinois. He told police he came from Rockford, IL early Thursday. Court documents show four people witnessed Souttathamma coming out of city hall and referencing dynamite in his suitcase. He says he was trying to keep them away but told them there wasn't a bomb inside. Either way, Thursday's incident used up a lot of time and resources. And it's not being taken lightly.

Just after three o'clock Thursday afternoon police were called to the east side of City Hall after reports of a possible bomb.

"A call of this nature you're going to have a major police response, major fire response, ems response. In addition to the outside sources we summoned, being the Quad City bomb squad," Lt. Scott Baxter said.

Court documents show a 20-year-old woman reported that Souttathamma came out of City Hall and yelled "look out, look out, dynamite, look out." Three students also reported a similar incident where he came outside and yelled "mine, mine, no do not touch, dynamite, don't touch."

"You make a statement such as that and you can end up being a convicted felon like that. Whether it's a joke, whether its not, you've seen the kind of resources we put in and the response we stage," Baxter said.

Which is why he has Soutthamma charged with felony false reporting. He claimed he told the children there was not a bomb in the suitcases. He did admit to saying "don't come close, maybe dynamite" but that he was trying to keep them away.

"In today's society even making a statement is going to get you some attention," Baxter said.

Attention that costs a lot of money in the process.

"You're talking significant personal deployment to the scene and again the impact of the evacuation," Baxter said.

Lt. Baxter says he can't even begin to estimate how much Thursday's incident cost the city. Especially when you add time lost from businesses closing early, to overtime, summoning the bomb squad and bringing in the auxiliary police.

But it was all necessary to ensure the safety of the public. And it's all thanks to a call from a witness. Court documents also indicate a language barrier. One statement investigators say he kept repeating "I will pay for what I have caused...I have money..." If convicted, he could face a maximum five years in prison and a fine of about $7,500.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

Follow Lauren on Twitter.

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