Bomb squad detonates suspicious package

July 21, 2008 5:19:51 PM PDT
The Walnut Creek Police Department bomb squad has used a water canon to detonate a suspicious package that a man in an Indiana Jones-style hat reportedly left on an Amtrak train this morning, Richmond police Sgt. Bisa French.

The package, which prompted the evacuation of the Richmond Bay Area Rapid Transit station, was detonated shortly after 2:30 p.m. The station was reopened at 2:53 p.m. after the suspicious object was determined not to pose a threat, BART officials said.

The incident began shortly before 11 a.m. when Richmond police received a call reporting that a suspicious man had boarded an Amtrak Capitol Corridor train in Martinez.

The man was reportedly asking questions of other passengers on the train before he left a package that appeared to have wires sticking out of it in one of the train cars, French said.

The man then went into a second car and reportedly began removing windows from the train.

A conductor attempted to contact the man at the Richmond BART station, which is a transfer station for Amtrak's Capitol Corridor line, but the man told him not to come any closer and reportedly threatened him, French said.

The suspect then jumped out a window, a 10-foot drop, and took off running toward Macdonald Avenue.

The area around the station was evacuated while the bomb squad determined whether the water cannon had rendered the package safe, French said.

Police are continuing to search for the man, who was described as white, in his mid-30s to 40s, about 6 feet tall and weighing about 140 pounds.

He had a goatee and a ponytail and was wearing a brown coat, blue jeans, a tan shirt and a wide-brim Indiana Jones-style hat, French said.

BART passengers on the Richmond-Millbrae, the Richmond-Fremont and the Pittsburg/Bay Point-SFO lines can expect to see shorter trains in the earlier part of the evening commute tonight.

According to BART spokesman Linton Johnson, about 60 percent of the BART fleet is stored at the Richmond yard, which is north of the Richmond BART station. When the station was closed, trains were not able to reach the yard to have more cars added to them for the evening commute, Johnson said.

However, after about 5:30 p.m. trains are expected to be normal commute length.


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