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'Suspicious package' at Bi-State building removed after evacuation

'Suspicious package' at Bi-State building removed after evacuation

March 18th, 2019 by Lori Dunn in Texarkana News

An El Dorado officer walks towards a suspicious package outside of the Bi-State Justice Building in his Explosive Ordnance Disposal suit on Monday, March 18, 2019, in Texarkana, Texas. The Bi-State Justice Building was evacuated about 9:40 a.m. today and a bomb squad is en route to investigate the report of a "suspicious package" outside of the building, an official said.

Photo by Hunt Mercier /Texarkana Gazette.

Materials found inside a suspicious device found outside the Bi-State Justice Building early Monday have been determined to be non-hazardous.

"The bomb squad advised due to its shape that it was warranted to call them and have it removed, but after a full investigation, they found the material inside to be non-hazardous and the package rendered safe," said Sgt. Rick Cockrell, spokesman for Texarkana, Ark., Police Department.

Cockrell said the investigation by El Dorado determined there was nothing combustible in the suspicious device or anything that could have been ignited. As a result, the suspicious device would not have been detonated.

"They took samples of the materials and submitted them to the crime lab," he said.

Texarkana Police will review video footage to hopefully determine when the item was placed near the Bi-State and who might have put it at the location, Cockrell said.

The El Dorado, Ark., Bomb Squad removed the suspicious item from the site shortly after 1 p.m. Monday and took it to a secure location.

"The El Dorado Bomb Squad used their device to go in and move the object. It was deemed safe at this point. ... and it will be taken to a secure location where they can investigate what its made of," Cockrell said after removal.

The bomb squad uses a device similar to a small robot to remove suspicious items. The squad then secured the suspicious item in a secure container.

The bomb squad arrived in Texarkana about 12:30 p.m. to examine the suspicious package found on the northeast side of BI-State Justice Building.

The package was found about 8:40 a.m. Monday by a patron outside the building, Cockrell said

The package was a cylinder-shaped and about the size of Catholic prayer candles, with wires coming out of the package, said Cockrell. Also, the package has symbolized writing on it, he said.

Cockrell said it is unclear if the patron who reported the package was a visitor or an employee who worked in the building. Also unclear is if the person came into the building to report the package or called to report the package.

Portions of the building were bordered with crime scene tape and State Line Avenue was barricaded for about a block from the Bi-State.

The building was evacuated and the prisoners on the building's top floor were placed under lockdown.

Bi-State dispatchers were moved to another location where they could continue to answer calls, Cockrell said.

The Bi-State Justice Building opened in the mid-1980s and houses law enforcement and court operations for Texarkana, Ark.; Texarkana, Texas; and Bowie County Sheriff's Office.

The evacuation was lifted about 1:30 p.m. Monday. It's standard procedure to evacuate when a suspicious item is found.

"Regardless of the outcome we treat every incident like it's the real thing," Cockrell said.

Anyone who sees suspicious people or activity is asked to call the police promptly. Anyone with information is asked to contact the TAPD at 903-798-3154 or Texarkana area CrimeStoppers at 903-793-STOP.

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(Texarkana Gazette's Christy Busby Worsham and Jason Hopkins contributed to this story)

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