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Salt Lake City bookstore cleared after receiving bomb threat

Posted at 12:11 PM, Sep 24, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — The area surrounding a Salt Lake City bookstore was blocked off as police searched for explosive materials Sunday. The building has since been given the "all clear."

Salt Lake City Police said they learned of a "suspicious circumstance" at the King's English Bookshop, located at 1511 S. 1500 East, around 9:30 a.m. They later determined that it was a potential bomb threat and evacuated the building.

“I’m getting the goosebumps from just hearing about it,” said McKenzie van Dyke. She works at Finca, the restaurant next door.

The threat came in an hour and a half before “Sunday Storytime” with drag queen Tara Lipsyncki.

She’s been reading children’s books at the shop on the last Sunday of every month for five months now. She said she was heading to the King's English when the co-owner, Calvin Crosby, called her to say the store had received a bomb threat.

“The parents and the queer kids that need this event and need to be seen, I feel for them,” she said.

1500 East was closed from Emerson Avenue to Kensington Street as a K-9 was brought in to search the area. After the bomb-sniffing dog searched the exterior and interior of the building, SLCPD gave the "all clear," reopening 1500 East around 11:15 a.m. and concluding that there was no danger to the community.

“It’s sad, and with such close proximity — ugh, it just hits even harder,” said Talia Barber, who also works at Finca.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall condemned the bomb threat, saying in a tweet: "I cannot say this strongly enough, EVERYONE belongs in Salt Lake City. The actions today to cause fear at @KingsEnglish around a drag story time event are not welcome here. We’re looking forward to working with King’s English so this event can happen at a future date for all those who wanted to be there today."

City Councilman Dan Dugan, whose district includes the bookstore, also responded to the incident with a video on Instagram.

"It just saddens me. It's disheartening that our community and our city has been threatened by such hateful actions, and as leaders — government leaders and business leaders — we all need to take a strong stance against this hatred of others," he said. "We should have open hearts and open minds to multiple perspectives and beliefs, and not be ruled by hate and narrow-mindedness. So my heart goes out to the King's English staff and ownership and the local community for having to deal with this threat to their freedoms."

Crosby told FOX 13 News he refuses to let the threat stop him and his nonprofit, Brainfood Books, in their fight for inclusivity.

“The right thing to do is to put books into kids’ hands and to those without regular access. The right thing to do is to normalize diversity,” he said.

SLCPD said an investigation into who made the threat and any possible motive is ongoing. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 801-799-3000.