CREATED Apr. 26, 2013
Reporter: Maggie Vespa
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A neighborhood was put on lockdown, and a school was completely cleared out, all because of a Midtown bomb threat that turned out to be a frightening figment of one woman's imagination.
Hers is the face behind the fear.
"It's very scary," said one parent Thursday.
It was that fear, that brought life to a stand-still, after a 9-1-1 caller indicated a backpack left outside an adult rehabilitation center and near a school, may have contained a bomb.
"I just was hoping that something tragically wasn't happening at the school."
And it turns out, nothing was because, police say, 46 year-old Esther Bergin made the whole thing up.
They say she even lying to officers, telling them she saw a man drop the bag, saying it was a bomb.
9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa asked, "How frustrating is that for the police department?
Sgt. Chris Widmer answered, "It's frustrating in the fact that it took so much resources."
Police say Bergin is now charged with one count of hoax, a class four felony.
She may face prison time, she may also have to cough up the cash, for this police operation.
"We missed out on other calls, or we were slower to respond to other calls," said Sgt. Widmer.
This happened as neighbors, spent much of the afternoon on lockdown.
"Told Mom to stay in the house with the baby. It's best not to walk down there and investigate," said one neighbor.
Some say the punishment fits the crime.
"Doing it in a neighborhood with a school just right around the corner... It's not funny," said another.
But to those at ground zero, a place that helps adults with behavioral and addiction-based disorders, Bergin's 9-1-1 call is really a cry for help.
"Unfortunately there are people out there that need the assistance," said Marc Haley of HOPE, Inc. "When they're not seeking them out, and they're not getting the help that they need, things can happen like this."
They add, they're relieved this woman's way of reaching out was nothing more than a bluff.
One thing police want to make clear, if you report a suspicious package in good faith.. and you're wrong, that is not a crime.
They say this woman told a lie, which was later disproven by surveillance footage, showing the bag had been there all day.