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Abandoned suitcase leads to bomb scare

Jeff Clemetson, Sierra Sun

On Thursday morning, a mysterious suitcase left on the porch of the Truckee California Highway Patrol station forced evacuations and led bomb investigators on a snipe hunt that turned up nothing more than batteries, make-up and other personal items.

The small suitcase was left at the CHP station between 11 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday, said CHP public affairs officer Todd Kettwig. On the suitcase was a note stating a citizen found it on the freeway.

“The dispatcher saw it and felt it was suspicious because there is a phone in the lobby and whoever left (the case) could have talked to an officer. So, we erred on the side of caution,” Kettwig said.

The CHP station was evacuated at 5 a.m. and its dispatch center was moved to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.

The Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit, consisting of members of Placer County Sheriff’s Office and CHP officers from Sacramento, were called to investigate. After X-rays were unable to determine the contents of the case, nearby buildings were evacuated, including Bank of America and Sierra Mountain Middle School.

“The package is suspicious (enough) that they’re going to shoot it,” Kettwig said after officers reviewed the X-rays.

Dressed in a protective suit, PCSO bomb technician Fred Carey approached the suitcase and set up a gun device capable of penetrating the case with special bullets that disarm some types of bombs. The gun is triggered from a remote location.

“It makes it a lot safer for us opening it from a distance,” said PCSO Lt. Karl Fulenwider.

After the first shot failed to open the suitcase, the gun was reloaded for the second shot which opened the case, revealing, among other things, batteries, energy shake packets, a prescription bottle, a bag of beads and toothpaste.

According to CHP policy, the suitcase will be held for 90 days to see if the owner claims it, then it will most likely be discarded.


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