A suspicious package delivered to the Key West Police Department triggered a school evacuation, street closings and a bomb squad investigation Thursday.
The package contained harmless cleaning supplies, said Sgt. Bobby Randolph, head of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad. The incident was managed by the Key West Fire Department, the Key West Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. The FBI and ATF were also on scene.
Thursday morning, Key West Police Supply Officer David Hadas noticed the suspicious-looking package in the Records Division offices at the police station on North Roosevelt Boulevard where police department deliveries are accepted. He notified the Fire Department and, at about 11:30 a.m., he and Commander Alan Vidal removed the box to a secure area at the fire station next door. They called in Randolph’s unit and Mike Karash, the Key West Fire Department expert on hazardous material incidents.
Meanwhile, the Key West School Board ordered the evacuation of Horace O’Bryant Middle School, which is behind the police and fire stations. The school’s evacuation went like clockwork, school officials said, as buses were immediately dispatched to the school and whisked away the students, while a special traffic pattern was set up to expedite parents picking up their children there.
At about 3 p.m., Key West police closed streets around the area. Donning a special, heavy, protective suit, Randolph examined, and then, while officials waited at a safe distance, opened the 16x16x8-inch cardboard box, determining first that it was not explosive and then that it did not contain any hazardous material. An “all clear” was declared at 4:30 p.m.
In the box were cleaning supplies sent by a Champaign, Ill., Sunday school class in connection with a class project on Noah’s Ark and The Flood. The supplies were for Florida flood victims. Hadas put them in a fire station donation box for relief supplies to go to Haiti.