Suspicious packages found near City Hall not a threat

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Four suspicious bags discovered near St. Louis City Hall brought out the St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson Squad Monday morning.

Detectives decided one of the four mystery bags, described as something like a duffel bag, was suspicious enough that it needed to be destroyed, so they blew it apart.

Bomb investigators, along with their robot, examined the bags, which were found around 10:00 a.m. in the parking lot on the southwest side of City Hall.

Employees were moved to the east side of the building and told to shelter in place until detectives determined there was no danger.

'Three of the bags contained what I`d describe as homeless clothing, possessions that could have belonged to a homeless person,' said St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson. 'The other was a combination of junk, household discarded appliances, things like that which a person may have collected through their travels,' he said.

City Hall employees tell Fox 2 News most of the people inside know homeless people often hang out in that area where the bags were found, so they were pretty confident there was no danger.

'The City Marshals assured us it was better inside and a lot of us were in the rotunda which is really reinforced, it`s all marble,' said Maurice Falls, Director of Operations for the President of the Board of Aldermen.

Dotson explained why police decided not to evacuate the building.

'The first packages, using the bomb and arson techniques, they were able to see they were clothing, so we knew very early on absent of a threat, where the bag was placed, it didn`t appear to pose any direct threat to the occupants of City Hall,' Dotson said.

The bomb squad was called in after a citizen stopped a police officer to report seeing the bags.

And Dotson says that is exactly what is supposed to happen.

'If you see something, say something, that`s the message. We would rather err on the side of caution in the world we are living in today. There are people that do harm, we saw that in New Jersey, we saw that in Manhattan,' he said, adding, 'let`s be safe.'

threat.

Joe Millitzer September 19, 201611:51 am

Joe Millitzer September 19, 201611:25 am

Bomb investigators search near bushes at City Hall in downtown St. Louis

Joe Millitzer September 19, 201611:21 am

It appears that investigators have pulled shoes and clothes out of the package.

Joe Millitzer September 19, 201611:17 am

It appears the bomb robot has tipped over.

Joe Millitzer September 19, 201611:15 am

A bomb robot is on the scene.  The machine has picked up a package.