Police clear suspicious package near Central High School

Police clear suspicious package near Central High School

Updated 8:40 a.m.

CHAMPAIGN — Police investigated and cleared a suspicious package near Central High School in Champaign on Tuesday.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal team investigated a suitcase found on the sidewalk, said Champaign Police spokeswoman Rene Dunn, and the police followed protocol in investigating it. The suitcase was cleared and found to be empty, she said.

Champaign Deputy Police Chief Troy Daniels said a suspicious package near the high school prompted an investigation. He declined to specify its location but said it was close enough to be of concern.

Daniels said the school's students were not in danger while police investigated. Champaign schools spokeswoman Stephanie Stuart said they stayed in the school's gym during the investigation, and were released to their first-hour classes before 8:30 a.m.

Traffic around the high school was being diverted shortly before 8 a.m., but University Avenue was reopened before 8:30 a.m.

The case is the fourth item in the last week the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team has investigated: previous items include an empty backpack left in West Side Park last Thursday, an empty suitcase near Leal School in Urbana last Wednesday and a suitcase in a parking lot in the 400 block of East University in Champaign last Tuesday.

The team also investigated a suspicious package July 21 near the northeast corner of Sixth and Green streets on campus in Champaign, and another near the Orpheum Children's Science Museum on Aug. 17.

All the suspicious items turned out to be harmless.
 

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CULater wrote on September 04, 2012 at 9:09 am

I would still like some answers about these events.

Have there been specific threats made against our community?

Why so many suspicious packages? Who is calling them in?

What does the bomb squad do when there are no suspicious packages to invesitagte?

Is this costing us money?

How can the police make such a bold statement as to say these incidents may be related?

I'm looking for real reporting here, I'm tired of this newspaper continuing to regurgitate the information from the police. ASK SOME QUESTIONS.

gamera wrote on September 04, 2012 at 10:09 am

Also: who is declaring these suspicious? The police? Someone is calling these in? The media? 

americanproud wrote on September 04, 2012 at 10:09 am

This is getting to be ridiculous.  Why is every backpack, purse, or bag found in a park or by a school automatically suspected of being a bomb? 

AnnieG wrote on September 04, 2012 at 11:09 am

It's been like this forever. ALL abandoned packages that are called-in as suspicious get investigated, especially when they're found in places like parks and schools. Who's to say that someone's not out there judging the response time to decide if placing a real dangerous package is worth their effort.

 

cemert978 wrote on September 04, 2012 at 12:09 pm

My husband and I rode our bikes past this suitcase this morning and we commented that it must have fallen out the back of someone's truck. I didnt realize that I should take a moment to stop and put the bag in the trash can on the corner to save everyone time, money and a whole lot of inconvenience. This sounds like an excercise to justify the existence of an explosives team. 

mankind wrote on September 04, 2012 at 1:09 pm

That's right. Because there's been a lot of debate lately whether people actually do make explosives to hurt people. Bombs are a total myth.

blpent wrote on September 04, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Yes, definitely an exercise to justify the existence of the team.  Here is a quick rundown of some of the team's bogus calls in the past three years to try and justify their existence:

2 pipe bombs at a house

A pipe bomb in a mail box that a man discovered when he opened his mailbox

A chemical bomb outside of someone's house

8 pounds of old crystallized dynamite found in a garage

6 live hand grenades at several houses

Over 100 pounds of seized explosives from the ATF.....

...and that's only three years worth.

 

So yes, they definitely needed to throw in a few empty suitcases to help sustain them.  Not to mention since all of the Bomb Techs on the team are full time patrol officers and half of them work night shift, I doubt they would want to spend their sleep time dealing with an empty suitcase.  And you go right ahead and handle the next suspicious suitcase, bag, etc.  But, before you do google "Oakwood IL church bombing".  I bet the friends and family of the man that died opening up a cooler would tell you to be safe and call the Bomb Squad to help "justify the team's existence". 

Bomb sniffing dogs are great, but can't be trained on all explosives - particularly homemade exlosives.  There are way too many different mixtures with an infinite amount of ingredients to be able to train a dog on all of it.

Somebody else already put it on here, but since the last three suspicious suitcases and backpack have been empty it's better to be safe than sorry.  Bank robbers go in the bank a few times to look around and make a plan before they rob it, so a careful bomber will do the same thing by placing items around the area and watching from a distance.  There have been incidents in our country and more overseas that the Bomb Techs are the intended target.

Thanks to the Bomb Squad for their service and to the citizens that care enough to call when something is out of place - especially at our schools.

By the way, your Bomb Squad has a 9 county area of responsibility and there are only 6 Bomb Techs on the team, so most people aren't aware of all that they do unless a little research is done on the team.

 

bettycat wrote on September 04, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Bomb-sniffing dog is brought in, either alerts on the package or not....wouldn't that be a logical part of the process before shutting down the entire block?  Just wondering.

MadGasser wrote on September 04, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Mass hysteria strikes again in CU.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_hysteria

CULater wrote on September 04, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Agreed - In combination with the bank robberies and attempted child abductions we are in a constant state of panic in CU.

mankind wrote on September 04, 2012 at 2:09 pm

And when a child disappears or a bomb goes off, it's going to be because of irresponsible parenting and police who are too busy busting underage drinking, right?

gftst wrote on September 04, 2012 at 3:09 pm

So I guess everyone is saying lets just ignore any other abandoned suitcases that for some odd reason are all empty, and when the person(s) who are obviously leaving these intentionally for some reason decides to leave some type of device in one and it explodes and kills someone then you can complain as to why the police didnt do more...

sameeker wrote on September 04, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Somebody is doing this as a prank. When found out, they should have to pay for all of this.

serf wrote on September 04, 2012 at 7:09 pm
alabaster jones 71 wrote on September 05, 2012 at 9:09 am
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There's no reason not to have the bomb squad investigate these things.  Sure, it looks ridiculous, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

 

What's nonsensical is how much area they clear when these incidents happen.  The other day, they found an empty backpack in the middle of West Side Park, and they closed a couple blocks on University while they investigated it.  Is that really necessary?  What are the chances of a bomb in a little backpack being so powerful that it could reach someone a block away?  It looks like they unnecessarily diverted traffic in this instance, as well.

Thanks to our lawsuit-crazed country, I'm sure Central felt the need to keep the students herded in the gym, even though if there had been a bomb in that suitcase, there's almost no way it would have been powerful enough to reach the school.

serf wrote on September 05, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I think you kind of answered your own question.  I'm just guessing here but I suspect they clear an area so large that someone can't complain, should it actually be a bomb that detonates and throws shrapnel, that they were injured due to the negligience of the police department from not clearing a large enough area.  

A quick Google search shows that a hand grenade can throw fragments as far as 450 feet.

CULater wrote on September 06, 2012 at 11:09 am

I am ALL for bomb squads. Those dudes are hardcore awesome. I just hate the lack of answers to my questions. There Is never any follow up by the "news" concerning these situations in our community. We don't know that any of these suspicious packages have been related . I'm assuming that more and more concerned citizens are calling in these suspicious packages because of the last suspicious package and the one before that. I want to know what the police is doing now to counter the recent rise in suspicious packages. I want to know what they are doing about the bank robberies. The only information we get is an incident report full of holes. The Media should ask questions for the community not deliver the message of the government. I am not concerned that the bomb squad aren't doing their job, I am concerned about what they are going to do now that there has been so many suspicious packages.