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Bomb scare on island snarls morning traffic

By Staff | Jun 10, 2010

Investigators surround a robot, used by the Lee County Bomb Squad on Tuesday morning to investigate a suspicious package found behind a Palm Ridge Road business on June 10.

Islanders breathed a collective sigh of relief late on Thursday morning after a suspicious package discovered behind an island business turned out to be an empty carry-on suitcase, a Sanibel Police Department report confirmed this afternoon.

According to the report, Dr. Billy Ray Fulk contacted the Sanibel police around 7:15 a.m. regarding a suspicious package that he discovered in a parking space behind the Hess gas station, located at the corner of Palm Ridge Road and Tarpon Bay Road.

The responding officer arrived at the scene and observed a green carry-on suitcase behind the building, at 2499 Palm Ridge Road. For safety purposes, patrol units were deployed to close off Wax Myrtle Drive. Dr. Fulk and employees at the gast station were requested to close their businesses as well.

In addition, police contacted the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District, Lee County Bomb Squad, Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Upon arriving at the scene, FBI Special Agent Matt Chester requested that the safety perimeter be expanded to include the closure of Tarpon Bay Road, from Sanibel-Captiva Road to Library Way.

Official vehicles clogged Tarpon Bay Road last week while a suspicious package was being investigated by the Sanibel Police Department, Lee County Bomb Squad and the FBI.

During the investigation, the City of Sanibel sent out a traffic alert via e-mail.

"The road closure is due to the investigation of a suspicious package being found behind a local business," the notice stated. "As part of standard protocol for investigating such situations, the Lee County Bomb Squad is on the scene."

"The bomb squad came out," said Bill Tomlinson, Sanibel’s Chief of Police, shortly before 10 a.m. "They’re treating it like a bomb, until it’s proven it’s not."

The report also stated that a bomb squad robot was used in the investigation and discovered that the suitcase was empty. It was subsequently turned over to the bomb squad.

The city rescinded the traffic alert via e-mail at 10:27 a.m. All roadways were then reopened in the area.