Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bomb Scare in My 'Hood - Cover Up??

Early Thursday morning, I looked out my window and saw a police barricade. The posted cop told me there was a suspicious package, and the area had been evacuated. I hopped in my car to see how far the evacuation went, and it turned out to be a section of almost 100 homes. I pulled up to where the first of the news media was and parked. That would begin a very long day ...

The setting: Suburban, upper middle class neighborhood. Nothing ever happens; teenagers don't even know how to execute a proper toilet paper wrapping (seriously - I need to train them. ;))

The story in a nutshell: The victim was an investigator for the Attorney General's office. He walked on his front porch and found a suspicious package. For a reason still unknown, he put on a surgical mask, laid sprawled on his stomach on his front lawn and held on to the package for 45 minutes (This was captured by a news helicopter.) He seems to have had reason to believe something bad would happen if he let go. The Bomb Squad eventually found a way to release him from it, and he rolled away and was decontaminated.

A couple of hours later, we were told the first set of x-rays was inconclusive and that the scene was considered dangerous. A couple of hours from then, we were told it was no longer deemed explosive but that there were suspicious items in the package, and it still was considered dangerous. Then, the FBI came, as if the Bomb Squad, EMS, police, Emergency Response Teams, Regional Strike Teams, Victims Services, Salvation Army Emergency Canteen truck, Capitol Metro buses for the residents, and about 15 media vehicles weren't causing enough of a commotion.

By the time all was said and done, all the residents were out of their homes for 11 hours! Not wanting to miss any of the action and any potentially good pictures or breaking news, I stayed out there the entire day in what would become 100 degree weather. We baked like chickens in a roaster. I drank bottle after bottle of water, but by late afternoon, people were telling me I didn't look well. Two days later, I still don't feel well.

Here's the puzzling part: The story disappeared. Was he targeted? Was it a hoax? Were the materials dangerous? I found NO article on it in the city newspaper, even though there were five tv news stations, a radio station, and me - from a community newspaper - there. My article is the only substantial written source available. And how, after working for my newspaper for four years, did, for the first time ever, my editor somehow lose EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY PICTURES?

Is there a cover up here? I'm not a huge conspiracy theorist, but something doesn't seem right about this one ...

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