Local bomb squads busy with suspicious package scares

Local bomb squads busy with suspicious package scares
A bomb squad responds to a report of a suspicious package outside the U.S. Forest Service in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. on April 17, 2013. (Photo courtesy: Chris Nelson)
SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. -- With residents on edge after the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon Monday, local law enforcement agencies have been busy responding to a number of suspicious package reports across the Puget Sound region.

In Seattle, police and bomb squad officials have been called to examine at least six suspicious bags or packages since Monday. While all turned out to be harmless, one person remains under investigation for leaving a package that detectives think was meant to appear as an explosive in Ballard.

Around 8:30 p.m., neighbors spotted a man dressed in a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt walking down a street near Ballard Corners Park, collecting items from trash cans, police said.

Investigators say neighbors saw the man "dancing and talking to himself" as he walked into the park, where he began assembling a suspicious-looking item made of several pieces of metal sheeting, tent poles, wires and tape.

Police say after the man left the metal item behind a park bench and walked off, neighbors called 911. Bomb technicians determined the bag was harmless but was built to resemble an explosive. The man could face a felony charge of placing a hoax device if arrested and convicted.

Overnight, police were called to 4th and Olive after some luggage was left on the street, but the man came back to claim it just as police were getting ready to check it out.

Fifteen minutes later, policve say staff at an apartment building near Minor Avenue N and Republican Street called police and reported that a tenant had threatened employees and had previously told a building maintenance worker that he had explosives in his apartment. Police contacted the man in his apartment, where they found and seized two m-150 fireworks.

Finally, the bomb squad was called to the 3200 block of S. Utah Street around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday after an unattended suitcase with radio wires was discovered in front of a business. The city's bomb squad went to take a look and determined it was harmless.

But it wasn't just Seattle dealing chasing down suspicious package calls.

Later Wednesday morning, another suspicious package was reported outside the Mt. Baker Ranger District office of the U.S. Forest Service in Sedro-Woolley.

Police blocked off the area around the building until a bomb squad could check it out. After blasting the package with a water cannon, they determined it had contained nothing but pamphlets that said "Welcome to Skagit County" and "I love Skagit County" and the all clear was given. Apparently several boxes of similar pamphlets had been delivered around the county Wednesday.

Over in Kitsap County, a suspicious package was reported at the Bremerton Naval Station outside the Wyckoff Gate. Military officials eventually sounded the all clear and reopened the gate hours later.

The events Wednesday follow another suspicious package reported in Downtown Seattle outside a transit station on Tuesday. Police blocked off the streets near Third and Yesler for a little more than a hour as bomb squad checked out the black backpack, which was later determined to just hold a hair dryer.

Police are still asking residents remain vigilant and to call 911 if they find anything they consider suspicious.