Murphy Homes evacuated

April 24, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

More than 150 people were evacuated from a West Baltimore high-rise for about 90 minutes last night when authorities found PTC possible bomb on top of an elevator.

Members of the city police bomb squad removed the device -- consisting of several foot-long cylinders, wires and a jug containing an unknown chemical -- in a fortified bomb-disposal trailer.

Police still were unsure late last night if the device contained explosive material.

City firefighters had gone to 725 George St., a 14-story high-rise in the George B. Murphy Homes project, about 9:50 p.m. for a report of someone stuck in the elevator, police said.

Upon investigation, firefighters found no one in the elevator, but they noticed "something suspicious" on its roof, said Lt. G. E. Bewley of the Central District.

"They called us, and we looked at it and said, 'Yeah, that's suspicious,' " Lieutenant Bewley said. "We treat it as a real threat until we know otherwise."

All 14 floors were immediately evacuated while bomb squad personnel gently hoisted the device out of the elevator shaft with pulleys.

Meanwhile, tenants of the building -- which has been plagued by crime problems and was the site of a murder Tuesday night -- stood outside and waited. Several mothers held babies, and children rode their bicycles near the project's playground.

"I don't think it's a bomb in there," said Janice Murel, 19, who stood by a firetruck trying to keep her 18-month-old daughter, Sterling, from getting cold. "I think it's a joke. She [Sterling] was asleep when a policeman came and pounded at my door and said, 'Get out, there's a bomb in the elevator.' "

At 11:40 p.m., the mysterious device was driven off in the bomb trailer to the cheers of residents, who slowly walked back into the building.

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