A man who left two bags downtown Wednesday told police he didn’t intend for streets to be shut down and two buildings evacuated while bomb squad member investigated the suspicious items.
When the first call came in about a duffel-type bag found outside the Federal Courthouse, 405 W. Congress St., Wednesday morning, investigators examined surveillance video and saw a man leaving the bag at about 3:30 a.m., said Sgt. Pete Dugan, a spokesman for the Tucson Police Department.
After a suitcase was found outside a downtown office building at about 12:40 p.m. police found the owner of the bags. The man told investigators he did not intend to cause a disruption and planned to return for his bags, Dugan said.
No further information about the man was provided and, at this time, he will not be charged with a crime. However, “the investigation is ongoing and it is possible charges could still be brought against the individual at a later date,” Dugan said.
In total, the TPD bomb squad responded to three calls Wednesday — two of which were attributed to the man’s luggage.
Courthouse employees found the first bag outside the building at about 5:30 a.m. They called 911 just after 6 a.m.
When officers arrived they called in the bomb squad, evacuated the courthouse and began closing down streets. Through rush hour and for much of the morning West Congress Street was closed from Interstate 10 to Church Avenue, and North Granada Avenue was closed from Alameda Street to Cushing Street.
A bomb technician was sent in to X-ray the cloth bag and from the image, the squad “noticed electronic devices, possibly wires, throughout bag,” Dugan said.
Bomb squad members used a device that “shoots a high-velocity stream of water” to shred the bag and any potential electronic devices, Dugan said. They then sent in a robot to empty the contents of the bag. Another bomb tech followed the robot to continue sorting through the contents, but no explosives were found.
Members of the Tucson Fire Department, Pima County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Marshals Service also were on the scene downtown, Dugan said.
At about 12:40 p.m. someone found a suitcase outside a building at 2 E. Congress St. downtown and brought it inside. Police were called and the building, which houses J.P. Morgan and Chase Bank, was evacuated, said Sgt. Chris Widmer, another TPD spokesman.
Bomb squad members X-rayed the bag, then searched it, but found no explosive device.
The bomb squad responded to another call at about 10:45 a.m. when someone saw what they thought was a suspicious device near a bus stop on South 12th Avenue and West Canada Street southwest of El Pueblo Park, Widmer said. It turned out to be a water filter cartridge, likely unintentionally left near the bus stop.