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BLOOMINGTON - Police searched for explosives inside Hooters on Thursday morning in response to one of a series of threatening letters sent to eateries across the national restaurant chain, authorities said.

"I don't believe it's limited to Illinois," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Marshall Stone said. "I believe there are going to be several out there across the country."

Members of the Illinois secretary of state's police bomb squad searched for bombs Thursday morning in Hooters of Bloomington, 409 N. Hershey Road, and found no explosives, said Randy Nehrt, deputy press secretary for the Illinois Secretary of State's Office. He said the search was at the request of another agency.

The Bloomington restaurant was open and customers were dining inside as of late Thursday morning.

A manager at the restaurant declined comment, referring questions to the corporate office of the Atlanta-based company. A message was left with an official at Hooters' corporate office Thursday afternoon.

The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee reported Thursday two restaurants there had received similar handwritten bomb threat letters through the mail.

Stone said he did not know if any other Hooters in Illinois received the notes, but he knows authorities searched the Hooters restaurant in Springfield.

"Based upon the fact that, you know, several restaurants have received them, I don't believe it has anything to do with a particular restaurant as opposed to Hooters in general," Stone said.

Bloomington Assistant Police Chief Ed Moser said the note was handwritten, and had been given to the FBI.

He had not read the letter, he said, but he described it as a "political action statement."

"That's not the only Hooters out of the entire nation that's received one," Moser said. "I don't know if they all have, but I understand others have received similar notes."

Moser said he was concerned about the public knowing about the threats because he does not want similar incidents of "domestic terrorism."

"Is this a valid threat? We don't know," Moser said.

Stone said he could release few details about the note, but the FBI was working with U.S. Postal Service inspectors because the letters were sent through the mail. He declined to comment on where the letters originated, and said he did not know where all of the letters were received.

It is too early to say who the letters are coming from, Stone said, and authorities are trying to trace them back to the source.


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