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Investigation continues into city hall bomb scare

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: KATIE WILSON - A Scappoose police vehicle blocks off access to City Hall near the Scappoose Public Library after police evacuated nearby buildings because of a bomb scare at City Hall Jan. 7.A police investigation continues into a bomb that was brought to Scappoose City Hall Jan. 7, triggering an evacuation and lockdown of the building as well as nearby businesses and streets.

Police have not arrested anyone in connection with the scare. No one was injured and nothing was damaged except for the cooler that held the bomb and which was destroyed by an Oregon State Police bomb squad.

Police say a man came to the Scappoose Municipal Court, which shares the city hall building with the police department and city administrative offices, carrying a small ice cooler. He said the cooler contained a bomb and he had disarmed it. Not knowing what else to do, he brought it to the police, Chief Doug Greisen said.

Despite the man’s assurances that the bomb was disarmed, police evacuated the premises and closed down nearby streets just as school was getting out at 3 p.m. Then they waited for the bomb squad.

An hour later, the bomb squad arrived, X-rayed the cooler and blew it up.

The Scappoose Police Department does not have any officers trained to handle or disarm possible explosives — the training and equipment required is much too expensive, Greisen said. When an incident does occur, the department calls the Oregon bomb squad and responders come from either the Oregon State Police in Salem or the Portland Police Bureau.

“We’ve had many of these [kind of incidents]” Greisen said. “They just happen. We’ve had pipe bombs. We have had hand grenades.”

Often, a citizen finds something suspicious while cleaning out a garage or storage space and calls the police. Other times, as in this case, they bring it in — something Greisen does not recommend.

If a citizen happens on a suspicious, possibly explosive device, he or she should leave it alone and call the authorities, Greisen said. “Going to check out something is the stupidest thing somebody can do.”