Lost briefcase mistaken for 'suspicious package'

September 04, 1998|By Alec Klein | Alec Klein,SUN STAFF

All manner of chaos broke loose yesterday on the streets of downtown Baltimore because of, well, a briefcase.

The intrigue began in the mid-afternoon when the satchel was spotted in the doorway of 36 S. Charles St.

Abandoned.

Like a shadowy figure from a Hitchcock thriller, someone picked up the vagrant valise and placed it on the sidewalk near the entrance to the Federal Express office in the same building.

When the building manager of 36 S. Charles St. called the police it was no longer a briefcase: It officially became "a suspicious package."

A possible bomb.

Given the recent terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa and American counter-strikes against targets in Afghanistan and Sudan, Baltimore police would not make light of the situation.

They called out the cavalry: At about 3 p.m., police dispatched their Emergency Vehicle Unit with its bomb technicians. Meanwhile, the area was blocked off to traffic for about 45 minutes, causing gridlock on Pratt Street with cars backed up for more than a mile. It took more than 30 minutes for many vehicles to travel a half-mile downtown.

The bomb squad carefully placed the briefcase in a specially designed machine. Then, the briefcase was "disintegrated."

The briefcase, it turns out, was a briefcase. Moments later, a man rushed back to 36 S. Charles St. in search of his briefcase.

He was, well, an attorney.

Pub Date: 9/04/98

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