Posted on June 29, 2013 at 1:22 PM
Wednesday, Jan 8 at 11:07 AM
Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL
MANDEVILLE, La. - A suspicious package that turned out to be an old chess set caused two dozen homes in a Mandeville neighborhood to be evacuated for several hours Saturday afternoon.
Mandeville Police were called to a home on Devon Street shortly before noon when a retired IRS agent reported what he thought was a suspicious package on his front porch.
"The gentleman is a retired IRS agent who thought there might be some people out to harm him based on an ongoing case," said Mandeville Police Chief Rick Richard.
When officers arrived they found a brown briefcase on the homeowner's door step. Immediately, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's bomb squad was called in to investigate.
"An x-ray of the device was taken and it was a mirror image of a pipe bomb in a briefcase," said Chief Richard. "It just looked like the real deal."
Several law enforcement agencies were called in, including the ATF and the FBI. Within an hour, a 600-foot perimeter was setup around the home.
Many residents were shocked when they returned home from outings and were turned away by police, who had evacuated roughly 24 homes.
"We weren't prepared," said one neighbor. "We weren't here to be evacuated so we couldn't grab anything."
For hours, neighbors nervously waited for word on exactly what was going on. Then just after 5 p.m. police were able to open the briefcase to determine what was inside.
"We blew it open and tried to get the robot down there to look around, but there was too much debris so guys suited up in bomb suits and went down there and did a physical inspection," said Chief Richard.
That is when investigators realized the briefcase held nothing more than an old chess set. A short time later, nearby roads were reopened and residents were allow to return to their homes.