ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Both directions of I-270 were shut down for three hours after suspicious packages were discovered at Mercy Hospital at around 11am. The interstate was shutdown between Ladue Road and I-64 and drivers were forced to exit or wait.
Mercy Hospital tweets, "Two potentially explosive devices found on Mercy campus. Both away from building; no patients or co-workers are in harm’s way at this time. Out of abundance of caution, and to ensure the safety of our patients & co-workers, our ER is diverting patients to other facilities."
Two suspicious packages were discovered on the hospital's campus. An Emergency Room technician discovered a potentially dangerous items on an incoming patient's property. The employee walked the item and duffle bag outside to the sidewalk and the "item" to the helicopter landing pad. He saw what appeared to be cellphones and wires.
Police say that person who brought the items to the campus did not threaten anyone at the hospital. The man in his 50's was at the hospital for a mental health evaluation. The duffel bag and the "item" wrapped in cloth are his property. Investigators are not sure why he brought the items to the hospital. He is cooperating with law enforcement.
The St. Louis County Bomb and Arson unit deployed a robot and investigators in bomb suits to investigate the suspicious packages. They detonated the item on the helicopter landing pad. The duffel bag was then x-rayed and examined by the bomb robot.
A bomb squad investigator eventually opened up the bag. He pulled several pieces of clothing and tennis balls from the duffel bag. The "device" the employee thought was a cell phone with wires sticking out was not explosive.
Police say they shut down the highway as a precaution. The proximity to the highway was within their 300 feet. If there was an explosive device then drivers would have been affected.
Authorities cleared and declared the area safe by 2:30 pm.
The Missouri Highway Patrol has declined to comment on the situation. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says he has been briefed on the situation:
Police say it is too soon to know if the man who brought the items to the hospital will be charged. Authorities are investigating the man and his home. They want to know why he brought the potentially dangerous items to the hospital. They are not sure what his intent was at this time.