Wallet caused bomb scare that shut down courthouse

Wallet caused bomb scare that shut down courthouse by Stephanie Massinon, May 30, 2013, Calgary Herald
The wallet-sized package that shut down the Calgary courthouse for a day and disrupted more than 1,300 court cases over fears the mysterious item was an explosive has returned from testing and the results are in. According to police, it was “just a wallet.” Police wrapped up their investigation into the May 1 incident last week and say no charges will be laid because there was no criminal intent.  The item turned out to be a wallet with two blocks of taped-up wood, two small batteries and wiring inside. But when court staff saw the item on their X-rays, the wood looked like plastic explosives. A language barrier with the wallet’s owner further complicated matters, and the decision was made to treat it as a bomb. “In the end, through the course of the investigation, we’re satisfied that this was just a whole lot of circumstances that came together in a very high-profile location,” said police spokesman Kevin Brookwell. Brookwell said police do not know why the bizarre mix of items was included in the wallet. “We were absolutely satisfied there was no criminal intent to this, that there were no grounds for charges to be laid. “There still are questions that we may never answer as to the purpose of what this was. Certainly it resulted in a lot of great discussion among a lot of experts and partner agencies, including Homeland Security (in the U.S.) and the International (Association of) Bomb Technicians who had never seen anything like this,” said Brookwell. On May 1 at 9:30 a.m., the man brought his wallet to court and it caught the attention of sheriffs when it was scanned by the airport-type x-ray machine. The courthouse was evacuated and nearby downtown roads shut down. The bomb squad was called in and the item was removed by a robot. Brookwell said police will soon release an x-ray image so the public can see what the security guards saw. When our experts looked at it, the components for an explosive device were present. You had the power source, you had the wiring and the two solid objects,” said Brookwell. He said an extensive investigation followed and is now considered closed. The man had a legitimate reason to be in court, Brookwell said, believing it was for a civil matter.  [Emphasis added]

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