Bomb squad clears suspicious package found in downtown Phoenix

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 10 at 5:53 PM

Map: First Ave. & Jefferson St.

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PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Police Department bomb squad converged on the area of Jefferson Street and First Avenue where a suspicious package was found Friday morning.

As the situation developed, 3TV's Tess Rafols described the scene as "chaotic," explaining that several blocks were closed to traffic. Police are also moved pedestrians out of the area. The Old Courthouse building, which is about a block north of Superior Court, was evacuated as a precaution.

Witnesses say the item in question was a green duffel bag or backpack on the sidewalk.

According to Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos, an individual reported seeing a white man walking down the street and deliberately dropping the bag on the sidewalk. The man then kept right on walking, leaving the bag behind.

"It was somewhat suspicious to this individual that he was walking by, seemed to set this package down and kept walking," Martos said. "That combined with some of the threats that we've had downtown, out of an abundance of caution, we decided to call the bomb squad out. They did their thing this morning."

Martos said the bomb squad's robot opened the bag to take a look at what was inside. The bomb squad cleared the bag shortly before 9 a.m., saying it contained only clothes, food and tools.

3TV viewers sent pictures from the scene showing several police cars and what appeared to be a command unit, as well a the bomb squad robot.

Martos said the individual who reported the bag did exactly the right thing.

"We want people to call us and tell us [if they see something suspicious]," he said. "We would prefer to ensure that it was nothing rather than it be something and nobody called about it."

The scene was adjacent to the Wells Fargo Building, which houses the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. That office has been the target of more than one threat. It's also close to CityScape, which has been a hub of activity relating to the Jodi Arias trial.

The area was reopened and traffic was moving again by just after 9 a.m.

Video from 3TV viewer Tim Rawlins

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