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Kalakaua reopens; Suspicious package just 'a bunch of junk'

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 5:33 p.m. HST, Apr 26, 2013

Honolulu police reopened Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki at Lewers Street at about 5:10 p.m. after the HPD bomb squad found nothing inside a "suspicious package" outside the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.

Although the bomb squad deemed the backpack harmless, officers arrested a 29-year-old man for investigation of second-degree terroristic threatening, a misdemeanor.

A portion of shopping center had been evacuated during the more than two-hour scare, HPD spokeswoman Teresa Bell said.

An unattended backpack was found about 2 p.m. in front of the Cartier store on Kalakaua, police said. Police called the bomb squad and shut down Kalakaua Avenue before 3 p.m., creating a traffic nightmare in Waikiki just as the afternoon rush hour was about to begin.

Police X-rayed the backpack and an explosive specialist in a protective suit from HPD's Specialized Services Division looked inside and found nothing dangerous.

“Basically a bunch of junk inside,” police Capt. Ryan Borges said. “Circumstances indicated it might have been an explosive device because of the way the person was acting,” he said.

Borges said witnesses said it appeared the bag was left there intentionally. “It wasn’t a mistake, he actually intended to scare people,” he said.

Borges referred to last week's Boston Marathon bombing and said, “We’re treating everything like it’s real, because we don’t know."

The road closure created an instant traffic mess as vehicles heading into the ewa-end of Waikiki stopped, backing up traffic throughout the surrounding areas. Motorists were told to avoid Kalakaua from Lewers to Royal Hawaiian Avenue.

The disruption came a day after a bomb threat and "suspicious package" closed down the Circuit Court and other government buildings on Punchbowl and Halekauwila streets for several hours. The package was deemed harmless, but police have opened a first-degree terroristic threatening case in the scare.

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