Urbana police cordon off area next to grade school for abandoned suitcase

URBANA — For the second time in as many days, someone has left a suitcase in a public place, raising fear that it could contain explosives.

Wednesday morning, it was on the corner of Cedar and Oregon streets near Leal School in the heart of Urbana.

Lt. Bob Fitzgerald said at 8:44 a.m., a neighbor called to report seeing a suitcase on a sidewalk on the east side of Leal School.

Fitzgerald said police had the students move to the west side of the school but stay indoors.

"We cordoned the area off. We contacted the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team. They checked it and found the suitcase was empty," he said.

Fitzgerald said the area was declared safe about 10:20 a.m.

On Tuesday morning, Champaign police were called to the parking lot of the former QC Financial at 401 E. University Ave., where a suitcase had been left in the middle of a parking lot, prompting police to cordon off that area for about 90 minutes while it was checked.

There was nothing explosive in it.

Like Champaign police, Fitzgerald said his officers must and do take such calls very seriously.

"We don't know if someone is playing jokes, if someone is watching us, waiting to see if we get lackadaisical," he said.

The calls are labor intensive for the police departments, requiring extra manpower to block streets and evacuate people.

Fitzgerald said police evacuated one house in the Leal area.

"It took almost our whole shift. We had to close streets. We got help from the UI," he said, in addition to the UI and Champaign police officers who also serve on the EOD team.

Fitzgerald said police have not located anyone who saw who left the suitcase Wednesday morning.

If anyone has information, they are asked to call Urbana police at 384-2320 or Crimestoppers at 373-8477.

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 29, 2012 at 11:08 am
Profile Picture

Freecycling?

wayward wrote on August 29, 2012 at 11:08 am

Any promising technologies that might give police an idea whether an abandoned package was likely to actually be a bomb?

Robeman1957 wrote on August 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm

How about a dog trained in expolsives detection?  Low tech I know, but they work cheaper than a police officer.

gftst wrote on August 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm

The County and the U of I both have bomb sniffing dogs.

gftst wrote on August 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm

This is getting ridiculous...

wow1 wrote on August 29, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Just like the other wise cracks yesterday. Just shut up and let the police do their job. Better to be safe than sorry. 

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 29, 2012 at 1:08 pm
Profile Picture

We Have Always Been at War with Eastasia.

Nice Davis wrote on August 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm

This is a pretty inapt literary reference. There are any number of quotes in 1984 that reference the idea of blindly submitting to authority because they know what they're doing to keep the populace safe. The quote you picked is about the government's attempts to hide the truth by drumming up false scares. Try again.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm
Profile Picture

No, you go ahead.  

 

Just make sure your allusion is recognizable to people who don't troll message boards seeking insuffiently apt Orwellian references (and ideally a fraction of the general public).

EL YATIRI wrote on August 29, 2012 at 1:08 pm
Profile Picture

Along with the constant child abduction alerts this has my nerves on edge.  Are we in a state of mass paranoia?

MadGasser wrote on August 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm
Profile Picture

Obviously.

Jsmith68 wrote on August 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Again Rob, thanks for your insightfulness.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm
Profile Picture

Who are you?  Do you have any thoughts or ideas?

Joe American wrote on August 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Suitcases don't kill people.

People kill people.

mankind wrote on August 30, 2012 at 9:08 am

It was called in at 8:44 a.m., cleared by 10:20 a.m. Seems pretty quick and reasonable considering it was near an elementary school.

MadGasser wrote on August 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm
Profile Picture

...