Police: Propane tank 'bomb scare' causes evacuation at Potsdam mall; 2nd incident involving same person
By MATT LINDSEY
POTSDAM — A propane tank chained to a post near gas lines at Market Square Mall prompted an evacuation of the area on Tuesday. Police said it is not the first time this has happened.
Lt. Mike Ames of the Potsdam Police Department said a village worker reminded police that a similar incident had taken place some time ago.During that incident a propane tank had similarly been brought inside a building and was reported as being suspicious. Ames could not pinpoint when the first incident took place.
Ames said he was able to locate the man associated with the first incident and he discovered that there was no real threat to public safety.
In the Tuesday incident, police were alerted to the suspicious suitcase chained near natural gas lines around 3:30 p.m.
Lt. Ames and another patrolman were on scene first and their initial investigation caused them to err on the side of caution and evacuate the immediate area.
Ames said there were fresh tracks in the snow indicating it the suitcase had been placed there recently, it was placed near the main lines and someone had walked around in circles near it, which raised his suspicions.
Ames looked inside the suitcase and could see a green military-style bag and once he opened that he could see a thick chain connected to a propane tank.
Police immediately contacted state police about a K-9 unit that is capable of detecting bombs.
If the situation had been deemed a real threat then police would have called in bomb experts from Fort Drum.
Ames said the man who owned the propane tank filled it while running errands in town and had left it chained to the post while he went to get groceries. He said the man, a Potsdam resident, uses the bus station which is located in the mall.
Ames said that charges have not been filed yet, but he is not ruling it out.
People were allowed to re-enter the mall about 45 minutes later.
Potsdam police were assisted on scene by state police, St. Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies, Potsdam firefighters and Potsdam Rescue.