HAVERHILL — More than 150 guests had to evacuate the Best Western on Lowell Avenue early this morning after the hotel received "suspicious calls."

Manager Steve Kerrigan said that after the hotel received the calls, night-shift personnel called police.

"We received suspicious calls and contacted the authorities," he said. "All of the guests and staff are safe and that was the priority."

The hotel had 70 of its 126 rooms occupied overnight, he said, with roughly 150 guests.

Haverhill police said one person was arrested in Lawrence early this morning in connection with the incident. The suspect is now in custody of Haverhill police. Additional information was not available from Haverhill police this morning.

The Haverhill Fire Department also responded and helped with the evacuation.

Several Best Western guests interviewed by The Eagle-Tribune said they were startled by fire alarms and loud banging on their hotel room doors at about 11:55 p.m.

"I was asleep," said Guy Marechal, a businessman from Belgium. "They started pounding on the door. It was very loud. I opened the door and they said, 'Out, sir.' I tried to grab something and they said, 'No, sir, leave immediately.'"

He and the other guests had to stand on a grassy strip of land on the far side of Lowell Avenue.

"A fireman told me there could be a bomb in the hotel," he said, adding that it looked like police were going through the building. About 30 minutes later, he was allowed back into his ground-floor room. People staying on the second level had to wait a little longer before they could get back in.

A number of homeless families who live in the basement level of the hotel said they were also startled awake by the blaring of the fire alarm and pounding on doors.

Kimberly Nason, 35, and her four children were told to leave the hotel with "whatever they had on."

Her 10-month-old baby was wearing nothing but a diaper, she said.

"They passed out towels for the children and a couple of people came by with blankets," she said. "We had no time to grab anything."

Kathy Gonzalez said her two children "were pretty scared."

She said a security officer from the hotel told her someone had called in two bomb threats.

"They banged on the door, saying there was an emergency," she said. "They said there was a bomb in the building and they had to get everybody out."

She said and her husband and their two children, ages 6 and 7, had to wait outside for about an hour.

Not everybody was evacuated, however.

Jason and Nancy Stacey, tourists from Ontario, were staying in one of the end rooms on the first floor with their dog. Nobody knocked on their door, they said.

"We didn't hear a commotion or anything," Nancy Stacey said. "It's a good thing a bomb didn't go off. We might not be here right now to talk about it. They must have forgotten about us."

Kerrigan said he couldn't explain why the Staceys weren't notified of the bomb threats.

"My understanding was that all guests would be evacuated," he said, adding that he was not on duty during the incident.

Kerrigan said it was the first time he could remember ever having to evacuate the hotel.

"We've never had an incident like this," he said.

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