Suspicious package uproots downtown Port Townsend; it's a bag of sand
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Port Townsend Police Officer Matt Krysinski prepares to lift a suspicious package that turned out to be a bag of sand. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The discovery of a suspicious package led to the closure of Water Street on Monday until police determined that a garbage bag wrapped in red tape contained a bag of standard playground sand.

Police received the call at 9:21 a.m. reporting that the package was sitting at the curb in front of the Belmont Hotel, 9:25 Water St.

Police cordoned off the block between Tyler and Taylor streets, but did not evacuate the upper floors of the adjacent buildings.

Port Townsend Deputy Police Chief Mike Evans said a similar bag filled with sand was found a few blocks away that was used to anchor a sign and determined that the package in front of the Belmont was similar in nature.

Evans had called the Washington State Patrol's bomb squad in Bremerton, at which time he was told this was a “proper call” and that a squad would be dispatched.

Evans and Port Townsend Police Officer Matt Krysinski “gently approached” the package, determined its content and then canceled the bomb-squad request.

Evans said one of the people who had discovered the package had touched it with his foot and reported that it felt like sand.

“With the modern world the way it is, this was enough for people to take notice, and we needed to go through the proper protocol,” Evans said.

“We don't recommend that people touch a suspicious package.

“If they see something, they should just call it in to us,”

Such bags of sand often are used to anchor sidewalk signs advertising local businesses and protect the sand from moisture and wind.

In addition to police, representatives of East Jefferson Fire-Rescue and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office were on the call.

Police spokesman Officer Luke Bogues said that bystanders were eager to help.

“People were inconvenienced but it was nowhere as inconvenient as having to apologize for not taking the appropriate steps,” Bogues said.

Water Street was reopened to cars and pedestrians at about 10:15 a.m.

Evans said there would be no investigation as to who left the bags.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 23. 2013 7:13PM
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