Local News

Cosmetics blamed for Raleigh mailbox bomb scare

Posted February 2, 2011 11:42 a.m. EST
Updated February 2, 2011 7:09 p.m. EST

— A state bomb squad detonated a suspicious object found in a downtown Raleigh mailbox Wednesday morning, but found no explosives inside, authorities said.

Several people trying to mail letters found what was described as a soft-cover case, similar to a laptop bag, in the slot of the mailbox on North Street, near Wilmington Street, at about 10:45 a.m., said Patty McQuillan, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.

The case later fell into the mailbox, she said.

State Capitol Police blocked off several downtown streets to investigate, and first used the agency's bomb-detection dog before calling in the State Bureau of Investigation's bomb squad and the U.S. Postal Inspector for help.

The bomb squad detonated the case, and State Capitol Police Chief Scott Hunter said it appeared to contain cosmetics and toiletries.

The mailbox is near offices for the state Department of Public Instruction and the Bath Building, which contains offices for the state Department of Public Health. Workers said they were asked to move to the interior of the building, and the entrance to DPI offices was blocked.

“They made an announcement over the intercom to stay away from the windows and to move to the other side where there's no windows for safety,” said Carla Frederick, an employee with the Department of Public Health. “People were nervous. People were scared. We weren’t sure what was going on.”

Lane and Wilmington streets were reopened to traffic shortly after 1 p.m., but North Street stayed closed until about 2 p.m. while SBI agents and State Capitol Police officers investigated the case. The mailbox has been removed from the street.

Authorities are still investigating the incident and are hoping to find surveillance video that might help identify who put the bag in the mailbox.