CLEVELAND – Cleveland police investigated suspicious packages at the Walmart at Steelyard Commons and the Federal Building on East 9th Street Monday afternoon.
The Walmart on Steelyard Drive was evacuated at about 3 p.m. for the unattended package. Walmart employees were taken to the parking lot in front of the old Best Buy store.
Members of the bomb squad said the package turned out to be a backpack full of clothes. Cleveland police said the owner of the item was found and questioned before being arrested for inducing panic.
Workers were allowed back in the store shortly before 6 p.m. A Walmart spokeswoman released the following statement:
“We take any threat to the safety of our customers and associates very seriously. Walmart is a safe place to shop and work and we have significant safeguards in place to respond to emergency situations, including bomb threats.
“As soon as we became aware of the situation, we evacuated the store out of an abundance of caution. Cleveland Police cleared us to reopen the store around 5:30 p.m. ET. We appreciate their efforts to keep our store safe for our customers and associates.”
During the incident, police asked drivers to avoid Steelyard Commons, including the traffic circle and Jennings Road. The #81 RTA bus was also rerouted.
Police said the bomb squad also responded to the Federal Building for a possible threat at about 2:45 p.m. Monday. Officers removed “an inert non-explosive device” for more testing.
The Federal Building was evacuated and other surrounding building were put on lockdown. Lakeside Avenue between Ontario Street and East 9th was closed for a short time.