Commonwealth Journal

News Live

June 6, 2014

Threat of mystery box taken seriously by police

Turns out to be harmless

Somerset —

Awould-be weapon of destruction that proves to be a harmless step stool in a misunderstanding might seem light-hearted enough to the public, but to Somerset Police, it’s no laughing matter.
That’s the situation the Somerset Police Department faced on Thursday night, when they were called to investigate a suspicious box found in the parking lot adjacent to two local restaurants.
“The bottom line is, Somerset Police was not going to put public safety at risk by assuming the box contained something not hazardous,” said SPD Capt. Shannon Smith.
According to SPD, at around 8:30 p.m. Thursday evening, some officers stopped to take a lunch break at the local Sonny’s barbecue restaurant and were approached by a man who’d discovered an equipment box in a handicap parking space that had seemed suspicious to him.
Police reacted quickly, treating the box as a potential threat to public safety and securing the area. Employees and patrons were evacuated from Sonny’s and the nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken location as well, and police searched for witnesses. The Kentucky State Police Hazardous Devices Unit was requested to conduct an inspection of the mysterious box.
Smith noted that it wasn’t as simple as a backpack resting against a fence, but it was clear the box had been placed there for a purpose by the presence of an outdoor mat underneath it.
“These things do occur; this isn’t the first and it sure won’t be the last,” he said. “We have policies and procedures in place for every type of situation we could possibly deal with on a daily basis. With that, we also have protocol that outlines the steps that we are going to take to make sure the public is safe, our officers are safe, and if a suspect is involved, they are safe. ... (We do this) not just because it’s our policy, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

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