Police have given the all-clear at State Farm's corporate headquarters after a witness mistook a custodian carrying a long object for a man with a gun.
Police descended on the State Farm corporate headquarters in downtown Bloomington shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday after a passer-by reported seeing a man with a "long gun" outside the east entrance.
Less than two hours after police arrived, State Farm employees who had been sent to the basement were allowed to leave the building.
Duane Moss, spokesman for the Bloomington Police Department, said a review of a State Farm security videotape determined the man seen by the passerby actually was a custodian carrying an object that appeared to be a pipe.
"Even though she (the passerby) didn’t see a gunman, she did the right thing by calling us," Moss said.
State Farm spokesman Fraser Engerman said there were tense moments inside the headquarters until police determined there was no threat.
"It was a little unnerving seeing all the weaponry here, especially when we didn’t know what was going on," he said. "What’s most important is the police did a great job and nobody was hurt."
State Farm employees at Corporate South, a building located about a mile south of the headquarters, also went to the basement and were released once police issued an all clear.
Officers from Bloomington, Normal, the McLean County Sheriff’s Department and Illinois State Police responded to the report of the gunman. A Department of Homeland Security command vehicle also was on the scene.
Some officers arrived in assault gear.
Police assembled in a parking lot near Washington Street and State Farm Plaza. Several squad cars parked in a long line along Washington.
About 4,000 State Farm employees work at the headquarters, but Engerman didn’t want to estimate how many were in the nearly 300,000-square-foot building when it was locked down and police went room by room searching for the alleged gunman.
"It’s difficult to make a guess as to how many employees were here because it was late in the afternoon on the day before a holiday," Engerman said.
"Many employees had already left for the day, or are on vacation. I’m certain that those who were here will always remember this July 4."
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or email@example.com.