Toilet with phone, notes left outside Towson court found to be harmless

Police say they have suspect in case that prompted bomb scare

  • Police maneuver a robot toward a toilet left near the Baltimore County Courthouse.
Police maneuver a robot toward a toilet left near the Baltimore… (Photo by Jason S. Garber,…)
February 07, 2011|By Yeganeh June Torbati, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County police said they have a suspect in the Monday morning appearance of a toilet with a cellular phone and notes attached to it outside the Baltimore County Courthouse, which caused street closures and sparked concerns of a bomb scare in Towson.

About 8 a.m., security personnel at the courthouse found the strange object, which included a porcelain toilet, an electronic transmitter, a telephone and "numerous miscellaneous notes," said police Lt. Robert McCullough. Police closed the 400 block of Washington Ave., near the intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue and a government building that houses the offices of the county executive and County Council, during the hazardous devices team's investigation, but the object was found to be harmless.

"At this point all evidence has been seized, and the Police Department does have a possible suspect in the case," McCullough said. "However, we're not going to reveal the identity of the suspect at this time."

McCullough declined to say what was written on the notes. Police do not generally reveal the contents of notes involved in potential crimes, he said.

According to the Towson Patch, one of the notes read: "We, the undersigned, are supporters of Duane Gerald Davis (Shorty)." The note identified Davis as a "well respected" area resident, calling on the city of Zion, Ill., to "conduct a complete and impartial investigation" into Davis' son's death in 2006, Patch reported.

The Facebook profile for Duane G. Davis lists him as a Baltimore resident originally from Zion and the owner of Shorty's Underground Pit Beef Shack in Upperco. Reached at his restaurant Monday afternoon, Davis said he was not involved in leaving the toilet at the courthouse.

"I don't know nothing about it," he said.

But he has auctioned off toilets to raise money for the homeless for years, Davis said. Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and the American Visionary Art Museum are among the many owners of his creations, according to Davis.

"They're parting gifts," he said. "A toilet ain't racist, it don't care who sits on it, it don't care who uses it."

Davis then cut the conversation short to head to court. He said he is renouncing his American citizenship and leaving to "whatever country will take me."

The individual responsible for leaving the toilet could be charged with crimes related to placing a lookalike explosive device in a public space, McCullough said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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