Columbia Police shut down several blocks of Assembly Street near the South Carolina Statehouse Wednesday afternoon after getting two different reports of suspicious packages left unattended.
They called in the State Law Enforcement Division and used a robot to examine the packages. They were able to determine that the first one was clothing.
But even after an X-ray of the second package, the bomb squad couldn't determine for sure what it was, so they used their own explosives to detonate it. After that, they were able to determine that the backpack had contained only books.
Columbia PD spokesperson Jennifer Timmons said afterward, “If the events in Boston had not occurred, we still would be doing this. We still would have officers on scene. We still would have SLED on scene. We would have the use of this robot to determine what suspicious items or packages are.”
While crews were working that scene, Columbia police got a third call about suspicious packages left unattended several miles away. When they arrived, though, the packages were gone.
Timmons says despite the fact that the bags turned out to be harmless, the department still encourages the public to call in reports of suspicious packages left unattended.