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Bomb Squad Detonates Suspicious Package Near IRS Building

Bomb Squad Detonates Suspicious Package Near IRS Building

n a March 18, 2011 photo, Detroit Police bomb squad arrive at McNamara Federal Building in Detroit to investigate a suspicious package.

Detroit Free Press via YellowBrix

June 15, 2011

DETROIT – A backpack that set off a bomb scare outside the IRS building on Michigan Avenue in Detroit has been detonated by the Detroit Police Bomb Squad.

The backpack was found at about 4:30 a.m. at the corner of Third and Michigan, said Detroit Police Inspector Don Johnson. A power source spotted after an X-ray of the bag, prompted authorities to detonate the bag at the scene, versus remove it and detonate it elsewhere, he said.

Johnson, who would not elaborate on what the power source was, said investigators will review surveillance video to determine whether the bag was left accidentally or intentionally.

Clothing was scattered around the area where the bag was detonated after it was blown up.

The discovery forced the evacuation of the IRS building and, by 6:30 a.m., dozens of police and fire vehicles were on the scene. Michigan Avenue was closed, along with surrounding streets and sidewalks.

The proximity of the bag to the building, along with “what’s going on in society,” prompted the concern, Johnson said.

By 7:30 a.m., Michigan Avenue was back open and people were allowed back in the building.

IRS spokesman Luis Garcia said this morning about 900 people work in the building at 985 Michigan Ave., one of three IRS computing centers in the United States, along with sites in Martinsburg, W.Va., and Nashville, Tenn.

Employees at the Detroit building work around the clock, and the areas around the building are monitored by guards and security cameras 24-hours a day.

The site doesn’t process individual tax returns, instead focusing on larger automated processes, including processing bank transactions and suspicious activity reports, along with handling foreign bank account reporting.

Third-shift employees were evacuated from the building as soon as the package was discovered and had been asked to wait outside the perimeter line, Garcia said. The morning shift is expected to report to the area, he added.

Detroit has dealt with a series of bomb scares in recent months, according to past coverage in the Detroit Free Press.

The Detroit Police Bomb Squad detonated a device April 26 that was found in a scrapyard in the 8300 block of Dix, near Lonyo, police said.

Detroit police spokeswoman Sgt. Eren Stephens had said the bomb squad is called any time there is a report of a suspicious device.

Earlier in April, the bomb squad was called to downtown when a man left a backpack inside the studios of WDIV-TV (Channel 4). The bomb squad detonated the backpack. There also was an incident last week of a suspicious container on Fort Street, Stephens said.

Neither item in those incidents contained dangerous devices, she said.

In early April, two empty boxes left outside the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago building in downtown Detroit set off a bomb scare. The bomb squad opened the boxes and discovered they were empty.

In March, a security officer at the McNamara Federal Building in Detroit scanned a tool bag – found outside the building nearly a month earlier – through an X-ray machine and discovered wires and electrical components. The bomb squad took the package to Belle Isle and blew it up. Explosive materials were found, and a suspect was arrested and charged.

The bomb squad also responded to an incident last month after a man was discovered with wires coming from his pants pocket. The wires were from a camera, police said.

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