MARIETTA - The mid-morning crowd had to be evacuated from McDonald's on Pike Street after an anonymous caller phoned a bomb threat into the business Tuesday.
"The caller told an employee there was a bomb in the bathroom and they should evacuate the building," said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite.
He said the call came in around 10:20 a.m. and store officials made the decision to evacuate customers and employees until police could determine whether or not an explosive device existed inside the restaurant.
"We checked out the entire building but didn't find anything," Waite said. "The restaurant was evacuated for about an hour."
The Marietta Fire Department stood by to maintain a perimeter while officers searched the premises.
"We treat all such calls seriously until we can prove otherwise," Waite said, adding that an investigation to identify the caller or a motive was continuing.
McDonald's manager Celeste Holland said employees and customers were back inside the restaurant by 11:30 a.m. and business was back to normal that afternoon.
Store owner Laurie Strahler was out of town when the threat was called in. She said in 35 years none of her area McDonald's has received such a threat.
"Never before," she said. "It's scary, but luckily everyone is safe. It's a terrible prank and my hope is they can find out who did it."
Anyone calling in a bomb threat faces felony charges for inducing panic, according to Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.
"And if the call is made to a business that has to be evacuated the extent of the charge depends on how much economic damage has been done," he said. "Generally even an hour can have some economic impact on a business."