Packages said to contain bombs were left inside a Spokane Valley department store Thursday, causing dozens of customers and employees to be evacuated and the store to close early.
After hours of suspense, authorities ruled it a hoax.
A man called ShopKo, 13414 E. Sprague, just before 4 p.m. and told an employee there were five bombs inside the store set to go off at 5 p.m., said Sheriff’s Lt. David Wiyrick.
Deputies questioned a possible suspect late Thursday but made no arrests.
Though skeptical at first, ShopKo employees searched the store and found two of the packages.
It was not clear whether the caller directed employees to the packages or not, Wiyrick said.
Workers in thin smocks shivered in the parking lot while Elvis, the city-county explosives disposal unit robot, pulled two packages about the size of a small shoebox from the building four hours after the incident began.
The robot used a shotgun to destroy the packages behind a cement barrier in front of the store.
Authorities released little information about the packages, saying only that the contents were “very unique.”
Dogs trained to sniff out explosives were called in from Fairchild Air Force Base to search the store for any remaining packages, but none were found.
Thursday’s bomb scare was the second this week. A maintenance mechanic at Spokane’s federal building found what looked like two sticks of dynamite and a remote control in a planter early Monday morning, forcing authorities to evacuate hundreds of people and block downtown streets.
The device, topped with a Nazi swastika, turned out to be pieces of broomstick taped together. Two teenage boys were arrested.
ShopKo employees refused to comment about the latest hoax. The store, scheduled to be open until 11 p.m., did not reopen Thursday night.