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Bomb squad disables suspicious package outside Circuit Court

By Gregg Kakesako & Mary Vorsino

LAST UPDATED: 05:52 p.m. HST, Apr 25, 2013

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Photo Gallery: Circuit Court bomb scare

The Honolulu police bomb squad "rendered safe" a suspicious package, which was later found to be harmless, outside Circuit Court near Punchbowl and Halekauwila streets this morning, authorities said.

The bomb scare, which came after someone called 911 and said there was a bomb in the area that would go off at noon, led to the evacuation of nearby buildings and the closure of area roads for hours.

The Honolulu Police Department's special service division bomb squad used a "water cannon" at 9:50 a.m. to disable the package, a public safety spokeswoman said.

Police from the special services department "rendered the package safe at the scene," she said. An explosion was heard shortly after the bomb squad arrived and a source told the Star-Advertiser that the sound from a water cannon is similar to a flash-bang grenade.

Circuit Court employees were allowed back into the building at noon. The court's afternoon calendar was scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.

The Federal Building, across Punchbowl street from Circuit Court, was not evacuated during the bomb scare. However, all federal court business scheduled Thursday was postponed, an official with the Marshals Service said. Court activity will resume Friday.

State Sheriff Shawn Tsuha said no explosive material was found in the package and that it never posed any danger.

He said officials exercised an abundance of caution after a 911 caller described a package that matched the package later found. The package was described as a foot long and 8 inches wide and was encased in a plastic bag.

Toni Schwartz, state Department of Public Safety spokeswoman, said the police received the call at 6:05 a.m. that a bomb had been planted near the Circuit Court building and was set to explode at noon. The package was discovered at 6:30 a.m. The Sheriff Division's K9 team was dispatched to Circuit Court 10 minutes after the bomb threat was reported, Schwartz said.

A source familiar with the investigation told the Star-Advertiser that the package, which was on the Ewa side of the Circuit Court building, contained plant fertilizer and a galvanized pipe, but no triggering device.

By about 10:45 a.m., police had reopened sidewalks and all roads in the area.

Tsuha said officials swept Circuit Court building, which reopened about 1 p.m.

At the start of the incident, police and Sheriff Division officers began isolating the area around the Circuit Court and notifying neighboring businesses and schools. Police closed Halekauwila Street between Punchbowl and South streets as well as Punchbowl between Queen and Pohukaina streets.

Besides the Circuit Court building, the state departments of labor and taxation also were affected. Both the tax and labor departments are housed at 830 Punchbowl St., which was evacuated.

Circuit Court employees who reported early to work were told to "shelter in place" away from the potential blast area. Judges, attorneys and employees who arrived later were not allowed into the court building.

Court sessions normally begin at 8:30 a.m. All employees and those involved in cases scheduled for Thursday afternoon were told to return at 1 p.m. to receive further instructions.

This morning's court cases would be rescheduled, said Marsha Kitagawa, judiciary spokeswoman.

Three eastbound bus lines also were affected and re-routed during the road shutdown. Roger Morton, president of Oahu Transit Services, said it was just "a minor detour" for the buses which normally turn on King Street to Punchbowl Street heading to Waikiki.

Although some people are inconvenienced by the ongoing investigation, they seem to be taking the events in stride.

"You've got to take this seriously," said Philip Gritman, 31, who was planning to attend drug court this morning.

"We were pretty much prepared," said court clerk Janis Shiroma. She said the staff was well trained on how to respond in such situations. Police asked the public to avoid the area and use alternate routes.

Voyager School at 547 Halekauwila St. was evacuated by police.

Because of the road closures many state employees at the Department of Transportation and attorney general had a hard time getting to work.

Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony, state Department of Defense spokesman, said there was no change in Hawaii's security status during the Circuit Court incident.


Star-Advertiser reporter Rosemarie Bernardo contributed to this report.

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loquaciousone wrote:
HAR HAR HAR. Suspicious package? I bet that bugga when fall off of that bag ladie's cart that hangs around that area.
on April 25,2013 | 07:25AM
bender wrote:
Or it could be that other guy's stash of urine that he plans on selling for big bucks.
on April 25,2013 | 08:00AM
Morimoto wrote:
I thought that guy lived near Waikiki?
on April 25,2013 | 08:42AM
jess wrote:
or it could be some crazy actually planted a bomb...
on April 25,2013 | 08:39AM
kainalu wrote:
"Be afraid! Be very afraid" ... and with that, the mission of the "terrorists" already accomplished.
on April 25,2013 | 01:04PM
nothing funny about that situation loq, should plant one on your lawn? no laughing then, eh. Be civil
on April 25,2013 | 11:20AM
Loyalty wrote:
Probably a box of manapua...lol!
on April 25,2013 | 07:54AM
loquaciousone wrote:
They just blew up a box of manapua!
on April 25,2013 | 10:49AM
serious wrote:
Now, if the Boston police who were paid extra for the Marathon had been doing their job?????
on April 25,2013 | 08:00AM
copperwire9 wrote:
What a horrible, horrible comment. Shame on you.
on April 25,2013 | 08:20AM
Fred01 wrote:
Really? No class loser.
on April 25,2013 | 10:18AM
midnightfairy wrote:
Really??? NO CLASS!!!
on April 25,2013 | 10:25AM
Skyler wrote:
You can't be serious. Only an id ee ot would say such a thing. You're not 'serious' - you're pathetic.
on April 25,2013 | 11:27AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Come on now... it would have been nearly impossible for anyone to have prevented that.
on April 25,2013 | 11:31AM
serious wrote:
If you would look at the video of the finish at Boston--see where the police were looking--at the runners coming in. Look at when Obama or the Pope goes down the street--where are their police looking? At the crowd--that's what they are paid to do and at time and a half pay. They did not do their jobs.
on April 25,2013 | 11:50AM
toad103410 wrote:
You're not serious!
on April 25,2013 | 12:29PM
Gary_S wrote:
If a bomb threat was called in, then they need to check if someone did not want to go in for a court date.
on April 25,2013 | 08:01AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Or maybe a lawyer that had one too many last night.
on April 25,2013 | 08:05AM
Skyler wrote:
Was thinking along the same line. Hope they were able to trace the call, but in these days of 'burn' phones, might be hard.
on April 25,2013 | 11:28AM
toad103410 wrote:
This is not a laughing matter even if nothing comes of it. Resources are being tied up responding to this incident. Think of how much this is going to cost in terms of manpower hours for law enforcement officers and for salaries for judicial employees who will have to be paid regardless. Also time and money lost for plaintiffs and defendants.
on April 25,2013 | 08:23AM
serious wrote:
According to the press, the Boston lockdown cost one quarter of a billion dollars.
on April 25,2013 | 11:44AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
It won't be a laughing matter should Boston come to Honolulu one day. Can't be paranoid but gotta be vigilant.
on April 25,2013 | 08:31AM
Maili2 wrote:
Sad though ya if it was a prank? Not cool.
on April 25,2013 | 09:02AM
Kabeeks wrote:
It's sad if it wasn't a prank, either.
on April 25,2013 | 11:26AM
HAJAA1 wrote:
Dangerous town side
on April 25,2013 | 09:05AM
France wrote:
Well, we all have a hard time getting to work in the morning, but the good news is we dropped to number two for the worst traffic in the states. Too bad for the Department of transportation and the attorney general employees. It is a prudent thing to follow up on suspicious packages. Mahalo
on April 25,2013 | 09:25AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
The package was described as foot long and 8 inches wide and was encased in a plastic bag. Sounds like something from Payless Shoes.
on April 25,2013 | 09:30AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Or Subway.
on April 25,2013 | 09:36AM
toad103410 wrote:
There are times to be satirical and funny. This not one of them. You people still don't understand do you?
on April 25,2013 | 10:17AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Get a grip.
on April 25,2013 | 10:49AM
toad103410 wrote:
Great comment.
on April 25,2013 | 11:13AM
loquaciousone wrote:
If you jump every time someone goes BOO, the terrorist win. I have no intention of letting some knock off jihadist ebt card users make me jump at shadows.
on April 25,2013 | 11:31AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
You'll sing a different tune when Caldwell's cuts to the budget leave the cops with water pistols instead of water cannons.
on April 25,2013 | 11:55AM
toad103410 wrote:
What would you have done in this case? Someone calls in with a threat, and a suspicious package is found. I think the authorities did the right thing here. Just asking your opinion.
on April 25,2013 | 12:34PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Jihadist uses EBT cards now?
on April 25,2013 | 02:29PM
IAmSane wrote:
Yeah, I heard they also wear gold bracelets up to their shoulders.

Gold bracelets of anti-Freedom.
on April 25,2013 | 04:44PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Besides, everybody knows Subway sandwiches are only 11 inches long.
on April 25,2013 | 12:58PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
7OrBetter, baby!
on April 25,2013 | 07:44PM
aomohoa wrote:
Of course we have to be cautious.Can't a bomb sniffing dog tell them right away? Let's just home it's just a lost bag.
on April 25,2013 | 09:39AM
dsl wrote:
cops practicing and getting OT. Pull video feed of the area you'll see...
on April 25,2013 | 09:50AM
dsl wrote:
on April 25,2013 | 10:13AM
Keith_Rollman wrote:
How can they "disarm" it if didn't have an explosive device?
on April 25,2013 | 10:22AM
romei wrote:
that probably means they "threw it away"
on April 25,2013 | 10:42AM
romei wrote:
means they "threw it away"... if someone was going to plant a bomb w/ the intent to cause harm.... "they" certainly wouldn't be calling in a bomb threat/scare... the intent for this was pure malice in any case.
on April 25,2013 | 10:46AM
Mahalo wrote:
I bet is a disgruntal person who is on trial or the trial didn't go the way they wanted it to go. 6 years ago a local credit union in Hawaii was receiving telephone bomb threats several times a week.. this person called in no less than 10 threats in a 2 month span... when they finally caught the person it was someone who was denied a loan..
on April 25,2013 | 10:35AM
shshimizu wrote:
This is serious business. So to the people that is making stupid remarks of this incident, grow up. Life is complicated already, stupid speculations and remarks have no place in this kind of case.
on April 25,2013 | 10:48AM
toad103410 wrote:
Thanks shshimizu! I keep trying to say this but keep getting put down and criticized for the "know it alls).
on April 25,2013 | 11:15AM
Kabeeks wrote:
on April 25,2013 | 11:29AM
false wrote:
They shot it with a water cannon? Why not just poke it with a stick? The HPD bomb squad apparently doesn't have a bomb sniffing machine, which is as effective as a dog. Not good for sweeping areas, but very practical for evaluating a single, stationary item. At least find out if it has explosive material.
on April 25,2013 | 11:00AM
ellinaskyrt wrote:
Um, a water cannon is a common & relatively low-cost weapon in explosive ordnance removal (EOD). Water can disrupt the circuitry of bombs, thereby disabling them. Poking a potential bomb with a stick has no such benefit.
on April 25,2013 | 11:23AM
Skyler wrote:
Wow, genius. Maybe they should send you in with an O'o stick next time there's a bomb threat called in & the package is actually found.
on April 25,2013 | 11:33AM
Anonymous wrote:
Well, they tried standing at a distance and taunting it but that didn't work.
on April 25,2013 | 11:54AM
toad103410 wrote:
on April 25,2013 | 12:56PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
They should have used VSL. That's used in Oregon and kuni says it works. VSL.
on April 25,2013 | 02:32PM
Psyche wrote:
Prolly someone trying to get an extra day of freedom before court hearing.
on April 25,2013 | 11:10AM
ljtonga wrote:
I agree! Check the docket to see who may have motive to postpone hearings today!
on April 25,2013 | 11:29AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
A water cannon??? Just what is that supposed to do? I wonder if Hawaii's Sheriff is just as incompetent as the other state agencies. If it was a bomb, what good would shooting it with water do? It makes little sense.
on April 25,2013 | 11:29AM
Anonymous wrote:
I was happy to hear they rendered safe a package that had no explosives and was never a danger.
on April 25,2013 | 11:54AM
toad103410 wrote:
How were they to know this at the time. After what happened at Boston it's better to be safe than sorry.
on April 25,2013 | 12:03PM
juscasting wrote:
For those that missed Jury duty today; make up is scheduled this SAT at 0500...
on April 25,2013 | 12:40PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
C'mon guys. What's with the unnecessary drama?

If it had been a bomb, we would have been treated to tons of pants wetting updates and announcements. That means HPD found some homeless guy's dirty laundry.

Just say that, and move on.

. John Q. Public

on April 25,2013 | 01:32PM
whs1966 wrote:
"a bomb in the area that would go off at noon, led to the evacuation ..." The word is lead; LED is a light-emitting diode. So much for the level of literacy at our one and only daily newspaper.
on April 25,2013 | 02:36PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
You might want to apologize to the editors as it IS proper usage. A simple google search will show you the error of your assertion.
on April 25,2013 | 03:06PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Few things compare with the humiliation of staking out a position as Spelling Nazi and then finding out you were wrong. The Star Advertiser walk of shame for whs1966.
on April 25,2013 | 04:20PM
knowsy12 wrote:
Oh boy. You probably ate too much bred today. Its clogging your breyn. Who bread you anyway?
on April 25,2013 | 03:19PM
IAmSane wrote:
You, sir, are a bag of fail.
on April 25,2013 | 04:45PM
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