News

Bomb scare again closes Buckley post office

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

A suitcase left outside the Buckley post office caused great anxiety and closed the post office, liquor store and a number of Buckley streets for about four hours Thursday.

A postal employee noticed a suspicious package in the bushes at about 10 a.m., which led to the post office being evacuated, and the Fort Lewis bomb squad and federal post inspectors being called.

Buckley police officers and firefighters closed off state Route 410 from Main Street to Jefferson Avenue, River Avenue from Main to Jefferson and Pearl Street from Cedar Street to Jefferson to maintain security. In addition to the liquor store and post office, an espresso stand across the highway was also closed for about an hour.

The suitcase, a late 1960s early '70s, double-latched model, was found to contain an old sewing machine.

Federal post inspector Jeff Scobba said the sewing machine was intact and did not have any devices that would be found in a bomb, such as a battery, detonation device or explosives.

"I don't believe it had been altered in any way," Scobba said of the sewing machine. "It still had thread in it, so it was ready to go."

While Scobba said it is unlikely anybody will learn why it had been left at the post office, Police Chief Jim Arsanto said because of the way it was positioned in the bushes, leveled by rocks, it was his opinion it had been left there to be seen.

"It looked like it was purposely set there to cause alarm to the public and the postal employees being as it was set about 25 feet away from the door," Arsanto said.

Arsanto said protocol was followed during the incident. After Buckley police were called, federal postal inspectors told the police to notify whatever bomb squad they used to examine the package, which happened to be Fort Lewis, which could respond quicker than the federal postal inspectors.

Members of the Fort Lewis bomb squad arrived at 11 a.m. and took X-ray and other preliminary pictures, which identified wires and springs in the suitcase. After better pictures were taken, it was determined the package could be opened safely, without detonating it.

Arsanto believes the suitcase was set there that morning. When the Buckley police canvassed the area, a man told officers he saw the suitcase in the bushes about a half-hour before the postal inspector noticed it, but didn't think anything of it.

The case is now in the hands of federal postal inspectors, and Scobba said an investigation has already begun. Inspectors will be canvassing the area, talking to people and seeing if it can be determined who placed the suitcase outside the post office.

Scobba said anyone with information can help by calling the postal inspection service at 206-442-6141, a 24-hour line. Scobba said callers can remain anonymous if they wish.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

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