Sunday, Dec 04, 2016
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Police & Fire

Suspicious bag forces evacuation of city center

Lunch, magazine found in package

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A Toledo police bomb squad member inspects a suspicious package on a table outside One Government Center.

THE BLADE/LISA DUTTON
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The Toledo Bomb Squad didn’t take any chances Thursday with a suspicious package but in the end, someone’s lunch and leisure read were splattered on the ground behind One Government Center downtown.

“We were able to determine it was chicken, a fork, and a magazine inside,” said Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan about a package that disrupted morning business at the government building.

The white package was noticed at about 8 a.m. on a picnic table on the northeast side of the building near the rear entrance and the adjacent parking garage.

Ohio State Trooper Lt. William Bowers said it looked like a U.S. mail package with some type of round cylinder inside.

“We just wanted to be safe rather than sorry,” Lieutenant Bowers said.

Sergeant Heffernan also said authorities wanted to err on the side of caution. “We had some video showing a guy place it on the table,” he said. “Who knows why he did it? Was he leaving lunch for someone? Was it his? Was he going to come back and get it? Sometimes these thing are a test of our response, but it was concerning enough especially after seeing someone set it down and take off.”

An employee at Government Center reported the package to a state police officer stationed at the building. It was X-rayed by the bomb squad before it was detonated using a water cannon.

The lobby, third, and fourth floors of the building were evacuated before the detonation just after 10 a.m.

Police have not identified the man who left the package.

Police and troopers closed off streets around the building during the investigation. A government employee, Christopher Harrison, a legislative aid for Toledo City Council, was arrested and charged with misconduct at an emergency, Toledo police said. Mr. Harrison walked near the blast zone on the east side of the building after the detonation and either ignored or did not hear police orders to stop, authorities said.

One Government Center houses city, county, and state offices.

In January, 2012, a bomb threat prompted evacuation of Toledo City Council chambers during a meeting. The threat was made through a third-party caller to the communications system. The meeting resumed after a few minutes.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.

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