Detectives Investigating “Hoax Device” Left In Ballard Park Tuesday Night

The Seattle Police Department’s Arson/Bomb Squad (ABS) and their robot assistants have been busy in the last 24 hours.

Since Monday’s bombings in Boston, ABS detectives have been dispatched to examine a half-dozen suspicious bags or devices around the city. While Seattle police haven’t received any information about threats in our region, ABS Sergeant Jim Hansen says “When there’s a major event around the country, people become more vigilant.”

Most of the suspicious packages ABS detectives have examined over the last day have have turned out to contain hair dryers, wires or left-behind luggage. But detectives have opened an investigation into one of the incidents, after a  man left a suspicious item in a Ballard park last night.

Around 8:30 pm, neighbors spotted a man dressed in a dark-colored hoody walking down a street near Ballard Corners Park, at NW 62nd Street and 17th Avenue NW, collecting items from trash cans. Neighbors saw the man “dancing and talking to himself” as he walked into the park, where he began assembling a suspicious-looking item made of several pieces of metal sheeting, tent poles, wires and tape.

After the man left the metal item behind a park bench and walked off, neighbors called 911.

ABS detectives determined the items didn’t actually contain any explosives, but was likely built to resemble an explosive device. Detectives then destroyed the device, collected its components as evidence, and are now investigating the case.

The man who assembled the strange metal display in the park could face felony charges as “malicious placement of a hoax device” is a class c felony in Washington, carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In addition to the Ballard incident, ABS detectives were also responded to several other calls overnight: at 4th Avenue and Olive Street, at about 10:45 pm, after a man left his luggage on the street. Just as detectives were arriving on the closed-off scene, the man came back to claim his bag.

Fifteen minutes later, staff at an apartment building near Minor Avenue N and Republican Street called police and reported that a tenant had threatened employees and had previously told a building maintenance worker that he had explosives in his apartment. Police contacted the man in his apartment, where they found (and seized) two m-150 fireworks.

Finally, around 4:30 this morning, ABS detectives were called to a club near Utah Avenue S. and S. Hanford Street, after the club’s owner found a small case filled with radio wires sitting outside his front door.

“In police work, you have those downtimes, and then suddenly you’re busy as sin,” Sgt. Hansen says.