Update: 3:01 p.m. 12-08-14:
An unattended bag found in front of U.S. Bank near downtown Springfield has been determined by the city’s bomb squad and FBI to not contain any hazardous materials.
The suspicious bag prompted an evacuation of the area, including bank employees and nearby Discovery Center of Springfield, where roughly 45 fifth-graders were stationed at the center’s Academy of Exploration.
The device was taken to a remote location where it was determined to be safe. A second unattended bag found at the same location was determined to be safe at the scene, according to a news release.
Officials say that a hazardous device located on Park Central Square on Saturday night is believed to be unrelated to Monday’s incident. Saturday’s case remains under investigation.
Original story below:
Two unattended bags were found near a downtown bank, prompting an investigation by the Springfield Fire Department's Bomb Squad.
According to SFD spokesperson Cara Erwin, an employee of U.S. Bank, 417 E. St. Louis, found an unattended bag around 8:15 this morning and notified authorities. Shortly after, another bag was found.
She says the bags were analyzed for threats. The second bag was found to be unrelated to the first and was determined not to be a threat. The first bag was removed by the SFD's Explosive Ordinance Device Robot and placed into a total containment vehicle for removal to another location. According to Erwin, the investigation was turned over to the FBI for further investigation.
A large portion of downtown Springfield was closed this morning due to the investigation. Traffic was blocked on E. St. Louis from Kimbrough to Jefferson, and Jefferson was shut down north of Olive.
According to a Fire Department news release, the entire block was evacuated to establish a safe perimeter. That included employees of U.S. Bank and the Discovery Center of Springfield.
The news release states, "in general, the Bomb Squad investigates all reports of unattended bags, but because of the proximity to a bank, there is a heightened sense of concern."
Theresa Bledsoe, spokesperson for Springfield Public Schools, said the approximately 45 fifth-graders at the Academy of Exploration were relocated, and their parents were notified by phone.
This comes on the heels of a weekend incident in which the bomb squad removed a suspicious looking object at Park Central Square. The object was removed from the site and rendered safe. Bomb technicians evaluated the object and determined it was a hazardous device.