'Suspicious package' causes closure of busy street in Buffalo, New York

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bomb squad commander Daniel Walczak enters the affected area.
Image: Jason Safoutin.

Buffalo, New York — Early Cinco De Mayo celebrations were interrupted after a suspicious package caused the closure of a busy street in Buffalo, New York's Allentown District. For nearly three hours on Monday May 5, 2008 a busy street, popular with bars and hotels, was shut down while authorities examined the package.

According to Buffalo Police spokesman Mike DeGeorge, workers in the offices on the 500 block of Delaware Avenue witnessed a suspicious person placing a suspicious package inside a United Parcel Service (UPS) drop box at around 4:30 p.m. EDT (UTC-4).

"It is my understanding that at about 4:30 this afternoon, a call went out for a suspicious person. Police responded and it appears there may have been a suspicious individual who was acting somewhat suspicious when he threw or tossed a package into a UPS box," DeGeorge stated to reporters.

"The individual had a package under his jacket which tipped off the person as being suspicious. He dropped the package into the [box], and made his way out to Delaware Ave. towards Allen," stated Buffalo Police Lt., K Szyszkowski.

When police arrived on scene, they evacuated the offices at 570 and the New York State Health Department building at 584 Delaware Avenue, while the Erie County Bomb Squad was called in to examine the drop box and the packages. The street between Allen and North was shut down to traffic while police secured the scene. When Wikinews freelance reporter Jason Safoutin arrived on scene, at least 20 people were standing outside the buildings, most of whom appeared to be office employees.

The UPS drop box where the package was placed.
Image: Jason Safoutin.

At approximately 6:10 p.m., the bomb squad arrived along with a K-9 unit. The commander of the bomb squad, Daniel Walczak entered the area between the buildings where the drop box was at about 7:15. He then opened the box and examined several packages with an X-ray machine, but found nothing to indicate an explosive device was present. After about 15 minutes, Walczak exited the area with the suspect packages.

"It was a regular envelope, a UPS container about 18 inches by a foot and a half. As of right now, I am not going to get into anything about the package weight until we go through a thorough investigation," stated Walczak to reporters. All of the packages will be sent to a laboratory for further analysis. Police would not say what might have been inside the packages.

Police do not have a suspect, but are reviewing security camera footage from the buildings. Szyszkowski states that witnesses say the suspect is a "white male, about 40-years-old [with a] green jacket and black pants."

The street later reopened just before 8:00 p.m..

Allentown is home to two major hotels and over a dozen bars, but is no stranger to suspicious activity. In November of 2007, at least 12 fire bombs were found inside a building at 15 Allen, just a few blocks away from Monday's incident.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.