5:00 p.m. update — The Hilton Garden Inn and surrounding streets in downtown Ithaca are reopening as of about 5 p.m.  police said.

No bomb or improvised explosive device was found at the hotel, Officer Jamie Williamson said. K9s at the scene “hit” on an air conditioning unit on the roof, delaying the investigation, but no threat was found.

Williamson said a person would face “severe charges” for calling in a bomb threat and the incident is being investigated.

An official at the hotel declined to comment about the threat.

4 p.m. update — Police are still sweeping the Hilton Garden Inn with an Ithaca Police K-9 unit around 4:30 p.m.

Officer Jamie Williamson said the Hilton Garden Inn was at or near capacity when the bomb threat was called in around 2:51 p.m. At least a dozen Ithaca police officers and investigators are at the scene, along with crew from the Ithaca Fire Department and a K9 unit from Cornell University Police.

Williamson said the building was evacuated when a person called in the bomb threat and pulled the fire alarm in the building to evacuate guests.  Surrounding buildings and parking garages have also been cleared.

Police said vehicles are not being permitted to leave the parking garage on East Seneca Street this time.

A TCAT official said people can catch buses, that usually are caught on East Seneca Street, at the Shortstop Deli at 200 West Seneca St.

An explosive detection dog is currently sweeping the hotel.

Roads are closed off from East Seneca Street and North Aurora Street to East Seneca and Tioga.

Williamson said it’s unclear how long the closure will last but said it could take from several hours to overnight.

ITHACA, N.Y. — Police are investigating a bomb threat at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Ithaca on Monday afternoon.

The bomb was reported to be on the roof of the hotel. Law enforcement said they couldn’t confirm or deny the existence of a bomb; more updates are expected later in the evening.

Several blocks remain shut off to public access and are expected to for at least another hour, according to Ithaca Police Officer Jamie Williamson.

The “critical incident” was reported to the Tompkins County 911 Dispatch Center at 2:51 p.m. Authorities evacuated the Hilton Garden Inn and several adjacent buildings, Williamson said.

Cornell has provided its K-9 to assist in the search.

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Police were called to a “critical incident” Monday afternoon near or at the Hilton Garden Inn, Williamson said.

Traffic is backed up throughout downtown. Dozens of people from the evacuated hotel have spilled into the street, and pedestrian access is blocked off on Seneca Street from Aurora Street to Cayuga Street.

Parts of Bank Alley on the Commons and parts of Tioga Street are also being roped off.

A police K-9 is on scene.

Williamson wouldn’t confirm the nature of the report but said that it’s of concern to the public’s safety.

He said additional details would be forthcoming shortly, and we’ll report those details as we learn them.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.