Unusual package sparks concern, evacuation, road closure

Unusual package sparks concern, evacuation, road closure

Unusual package sparks concern, evacuation, road closure

On Thursday, June 20, 2019, at approximately 1:19 p.m., officers in Winnemucca responded to the report of a suspicious package near Washington Federal Bank, causing concern and evacuation of numerous businesses. The package was later determined to be safe, yet due to the way the package was suspiciously wrapped, an investigation is currently underway. 

Winnemucca Police Department (WPD) Captain Pam Coats said a concerned citizen called dispatch to notify authorities of the suspicious package located between Washington Federal Bank and the National Guard Armory on Fourth Street. Responding officers took photos of the package to determine whether the package could be dangerous. 

Coats said photos of the suspicious package were sent to the Elko Bomb Squad, who recommended the package be evaluated by bomb professionals and further recommended that due to the suspicious nature of the package (appearance and location), that all businesses be evacuated within a half mile of the device. Chris Carter with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office who previously served on the Reno Police Department Bomb squad also examined the package appearance and concurred with the recommendation from the Elko Bomb Squad. 

Officials evacuated the area, including the Ridley’s Shopping Center, Wonderful House restaurant and The Flying Pig restaurant and closed Fourth Street pending the arrival of the Elko Bomb Squad, who arrived at approximately 4:35 p.m. Following the arrival of the squad, as a precautionary measure, Winnemucca Boulevard from Hanson St. to Potato Road was closed temporarily as a public safety precaution. 

During the investigation, an adult male subject fled from the parking lot of the Winnemucca Inn to Fourth Street and ran toward the area where investigators were working and was subsequently arrested. A later report also indicates that the male assaulted a jail deputy once in custody. 

Following the investigation by the Elko Bomb Squad and bomb response robot, the suspicious package was rendered safe and the roads were re-opened at approximately 6:38 p.m. 

Following the incident, WPD issued a press release stating that the suspicious package recovered from the incident was found to contain no explosives or incendiary device, but said that the contents of the package could not be disclosed due to the active and ongoing investigation. Officials said the items were believed to have been packaged in such a way as to give the appearance of being a bomb.

“This was a senseless act which resulted in valuable first-responder resources in the area being utilized, not to mention the need to have the Elko Regional Bomb Squad respond. Additionally, several retail businesses in the area sustained a substantial profit loss due to the need to evacuate all businesses in the area,” said WPD in the press release. “As such, the Chief has made it clear that he will make sure this subject, when identified, is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Individuals with any information about this crime are advised to contact the Winnemucca Police Department at (775) 623-6396 or secret witness at (775) 623-6969. 

“The suspicious appearance of the package and the fact that it was located near a bank and retail area, required the utmost precautionary measures to ensure safety to the public,” said WPD officials in a statement on Facebook. “We also appreciate the support of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada Highway Patrol, Humboldt General Hospital Emergency Medical Services, Winnemucca Volunteer Fire Department, Nevada Division of Investigation Tri-County Task Force and Elko Regional Bomb Squad.”