On Friday, an employee at the Daikin Applied facility in Owatonna tested positive for COVID-19. The air conditioning manufacturing company employs more than 1,200 people between its Owatonna and Faribault facilities and is considered an essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic for supplying health care facilities with HVAC equipment and services. (Annie Granlund/People’s Press)

OWATONNA — The Owatonna Police Department is investigating a bomb threat at a local business Tuesday morning.

Shortly before 9 a.m. on Nov. 5, the OPD received a call regarding a bomb threat at Daikin Applied located in Owatonna’s industrial park on 21st Avenue NW. According to Investigation Commander Eric Rethemeier, a suspicious device was located inside the Daikin building. Management initiated an evacuation of the building prior to law enforcement arrival.

Rethemeier stated that the OPD request assistance from the Bloomington Bomb Squad at 9:14 a.m., but that the call was referred to the St. Paul Police Department Bomb Squad which was en route by 9:51 a.m., arriving an hour and a half later.

According to Rethemeier, police units began clearing the facility at 12:42 p.m. After the building was declared safe to return to work, the Daikin employees were able to re-enter the building.

“Everyone was back in the building just after 1 p.m. and were able to get back to work,” said Susan Kaufman, the vice president of strategic marketing for Daikin. Kaufman said that during the evacuation period, the employees we located to the Minnesota Department of Transportation facility nearby.

“First and foremost, everybody is safe. The number one most important thing for us is the health and well-being of our people. That is paramount,” she added. “From what I heard secondhand, the morale of the employees during the evacuation seemed pretty secure and confident as they were waiting, allowing them to be confident when they returned to work. It was overall a really good outcome.”

Rethemeier said that detectives remained on site until about 3:30 p.m. The bomb squad determined that the suspicious device was inert and non-dangerous. As of Wednesday afternoon, no arrests have been made and the case remains under investigation.

The Owatonna Fire Department also responded to the scene.

Kaufman noted that the employees at the Owatonna Daikin location were notified of the internal resources available to them after the incident in the form of counseling and support.

“We support our employees and let them know that if they need any help or resources to call us and let us know,” she explained. “Not only is their safety important, but also their sense of security and returning to work.”

Load comments