Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Suspicious Bag Leads to Block Evacuation, Street Shut-Down

By Christina Georgiou

A report of a suspicious bag found between the inner and outer door of a
residence on North 11th Street caused the block to be evacuated and the
street shut down for nearly four hours Tuesday evening.
 The first block of North 11th Street was shut down for nearly four hours and residents were evacuated as a precaution after a "suspicious package" was found on the doorstep of a recently vacated apartment Tuesday evening.

Easton Fire Department Captain Henry Hennings said emergency personnel received a call from another resident in the building around 5:30 p.m. about a bag left between the outer and inner door of the building.

"It is a bag of unknown origin," Hennings said. "That's why we're treating it as suspicious."

Neighbors and local residents watch from across the street.
An Easton K9 sniff of the bag shortly after Easton police and fire officials arrived on the scene didn't indicate the presence of explosives, but Northampton County Emergency Management and the Bethlehem Fire Department Bomb Squad was called in as a precaution
anyway, he said.

The evacuation was a major inconvenience to at least one resident.

Though he said he understood the importance of being safe rather than sorry, being forced out of his home for hours made Matthew Koenig, who works the night shift at an area cold storage facility, miss work.

"Being a former Marine and having this happen, it's like, what the hell did I get out for?" he said. "I was having a nice peaceful sleep too...I was sleeping and all of a sudden my wife says, 'there's someone outside saying we're being evacuated.' This is just a pain."

A member of the Bethlehem Fire Department
Bomb Squad retrieves the parcel.
 After careful investigation, a bomb expert retrieved the bag at about 8:20 p.m.

Peering inside, authorities found the parcel contained personal items, and nothing dangerous or suspicious.

Hennings said the drawstring nylon bag held a notebook, deodorant, a sweatshirt, and an overdue library book.

Police swept the property, including a shed and a garage, but found nothing else out of the ordinary, he added.

"As far as we know, someone could have dropped off the bag not realizing the tenant was not there any more," Hennings speculated.
Easton Police Lt. Sam Lobb inspects the
contents of the bag, which was brought
out in a milk crate.
While there was no threat called in, the bag was possibly considered suspicious by the initial caller because the former tenant had apparently been recently evicted.

Local residents were allowed back into their homes and the first block of North 11th Street was reopened to traffic at about 9:20 p.m.

This is the second bomb scare in the City of Easton in as many weeks.

On the scene were members of the Easton Police Department,
the Easton Fire Department, Easton EMS, the Bethlehem Fire
Department Bomb Squad, Northampton County Emergency
Management, the Lehigh County EMA Special Operations,
and the Lehigh County Hazardous Materials personnel.
 On April 26, a number of surrounding roads were closed for about three hours after a black handbag was tossed from a vehicle near the corner of Seventh and Northampton streets, alarming a witness who thought the bag might contain a bomb. In that case, it was found that a woman had discarded the bag as litter shortly after purchasing a new one.

More than 20 emergency personnel, including members of the Lehigh County Hazardous Materials and Emergency Management Special Operations teams, responded to the incident.

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