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Mike Nowatzki, Published October 29 2007

Downtown streets, businesses reopen after suspicious package cleared

A suspicious-looking package found this morning in an alley behind Moxie Java in downtown Fargo turned out not to be a bomb, allowing businesses and streets to reopen about 10 this morning on the east side of the 100 block of Broadway.

The Red River Valley Regional Bomb Squad used two water blasts from its robot, and a member wore a protective bomb suit, to determine the package wasn’t a threat.

“The package has been cleared,” Fargo Police Lt. Joel Vettel said. “The investigation is now starting to find out where this package came from.”

A passer-by reported the package about 6:30 a.m. next to a stairwell behind Moxie Java. Vettel said it appeared to be computer cords and components with a mannequin’s head.

“It was alarming enough to our officers and also our bomb squad members for them to take steps to try to clear this and make sure it’s safe,” he said.

“Somebody went to at least somewhat great lengths to put these items together and place them in a place that was obviously alarming to somebody,” he said.

Businesses and apartments along the one-block stretch were evacuated. Employees at the downtown Gate City Bank location were not allowed in. Hotel Donaldson on the block wasn’t evacuated.

Authorities closed the 100 block of Broadway for more than two hours and also the 500 block of First Avenue North when the bomb robot fired two water charges to break apart the package items.

Vettel said police also are investigating a mannequin head found stuck on a pipe behind the Red River Women’s Clinic at 512 1st Ave. N. The bomb squad determined the head wasn’t a threat, and it was removed.

The two incidents didn’t immediately appear to be related, but Vettel said police weren’t ruling anything out.

Read more Tuesday in The Forum.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

Downtown streets, businesses reopen after suspicious package cleared Mike Nowatzki 20071029