False gun, bomb threat targets Marco Island Marriott

Posted at 6:31 PM, Aug 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-08 18:31:47-04

The Marco Island Police Department were on high alert Monday morning, looking for a possible armed man and explosives at the island's largest resort, while guests were ordered to stay sheltered in place.

Police Chief Al Schettino said that a male caller phoned police at around 9 a.m., demanding money in exchange for avoiding an incident involving explosives and firearms at the Marriott Beach Resort on Collier Boulevard. 

The Collier County Sheriff's Office also responded, bringing in a helicopter and bomb-sniffing K-9 units to help find locate a suspect, as well as any explosives.

"We have a lot of tall buildings there, so we want to make sure that all those buildings were checked," Schettino said.

For a couple of hours, drivers heading south on Collier Boulevard were detoured onto San Marco Road just north of the sprawling beach resort. Guests were ordered to stay sheltered in place, rather than evacuate.

"We want to keep people there until we can quickly evaluate the situation, and make sure avenues to leave are clear of any type of explosives," Schettino said.

At approximately 11:30 a.m., police determined that the threats were not legitimate. Schettino said that investigators will now turn their attention to tracking down the caller. 

"We're working actively with our IT (information technology) department, with the FBI, as well as our investigators to determine how this took place," Schettino said.

Fox 4 reached out to management at the Marriott for comment on the situation, but messages were not returned.

Schettino said that resort staff follows a protocol for threat scenarios, but that he would like his department to coordinate with the Marco Island Fire Department, the Collier County Sheriff's Office and the major resorts on the island for more training exercises.