2013-11-08 / Front Page

Bomb squad makes Exodus after Revelation of no danger in mystery box

By TIM GULLA
Ledger Staff Writer

In the end it turned out to be a harmless box of paperback Bible study books, but in a day and age of heightened security concerns, authorities weren’t taking any chances with a potentially suspicious package Wednesday.

At approximately 10:45 a.m., a still unknown person dropped a box off at the post office counter inside Buford Street Drug and simply said “it was ready” before walking away, store co-owner Charlie Patton relayed.

An employee at the post office counter subsequently noticed the package had no postage, no return address, and that the package appeared to have been stained by some type of oil.

The box reportedly was addressed to the return center of a Christian bookstore.

With so many potential red flags popping up, Patton said his employee called the U.S. Post Office for advice and was then instructed to call 9-1-1.

City of Gaffney Police responded in full force and after looking into the matter for a few minutes, ultimately decided at 12:30 p.m. to evacuate the busil ness and call in the Hazardous Devices Unit (bomb squad) from the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office. The entire store parking lot was blocked off from traffic and onlookers while the situation unfolded.

Upon arriving at the scene, the Spartanburg bomb technicians suited up in protective gear and took specialized equipment into the drug store to X-ray the box. The first X-ray apparently didn’t give them enough information so they went back inside a few minutes later to conduct a second X-ray.

A few minutes later, City of Gaffney police authorities began signaling to Patton and the store employees that it was alright to go back inside.

Patton offered his thanks to the Gaffney Police Department for the professionalism they showed in responding to the situation.

“The police did everything I think they should have done,” he said. “I don’t know what they could have done any differently or done better.”

He added, “Everybody felt like it was a mistake ... it just had that feeling to it. But they had to be cautious.”

Gaffney Police Chief Rick Turner said the officials from the very specialized unit in Spartanburg did a great job.

“We do wish to thank the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, the Spartanburg County Fire Marshal and the Hazardous Devices Unit for the major assistance they gave us in clearing this suspicious package,” he said.

As for the package, Patton confirmed Thursday that it’s still sitting in the drug store’s post office. With no postage and no return address, the store can only hold on to it until someone comes to claim it.

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