Bomb scare paralyzes Downtown Honolulu area

Sheriffs: Suspicious package was within a plastic bag

Published  2:19 PM HST Apr 25, 2013

A bomb scare paralyzed several blocks around Circuit Court for most of the morning on Thursday.

The threat and the discovery of a suspicious package shut down court, closed nearby businesses and left hundreds confused and on edge.

The explosion could be heard and felt a block away.

Honolulu Police Department bomb technicians ended the downtown drama with a single blast.  They blew up the suspicious package found in a planter on the Ewa side of Circuit Court.

Police were on alert starting at 6:45 a.m. when someone called in a threat to 911.

"It was a definite circuit court location, described the package and a detonation time," said state sheriff Shawn Tsuha.

Police said the caller told them the bomb would go off at noon.

As a precaution, Circuit Court was evacuated, streets and neighboring businesses shut down including the unemployment office, leaving many in a lurch.

"I don’t know what’s going on or anything. I’m trying to get to my workshop," said Susan Ambrose who was on her way to the unemployment office for training.

PHOTOS: Suspicious package evacuates Circuit Court, nearby buildings
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State Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz says a bomb threat was made to police at 6 a.m. Thursday.  The call said a bomb would explode at noon.  A suspicious package in plastic was found outside the courthouse at about 6:30 a.m.


Click here to see more pictures from the scene.

HPD's Special Services moved in, bringing with them the canine unit and bomb robots, leaving many to wonder if extra precautions were being taken with the recent Boston bombings.

"It’s better to be safe than sorry because of the Boston Marathon," said Julie Takano, who was on her way to the unemployment office.

But sheriffs said the response is standard procedure.

"This type of response is not really based upon the Boston incident. This is based upon what we see at the scene," said Tsuha.

Sheriffs said it was determined after detonating the package that it did not pose a danger to the public.

"We know it’s not an explosive. What initially was found was a package within a plastic bag. The dimensions within the plastic bag was approximately 8-inches-long, 4-inches-wide,” said Tsuha.

Officers sound the all clear at around 11 a.m.

Sheriffs did a sweep inside the courthouse before reopening to the public.  Honolulu police have taken over the investigation.

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