'Bomb' prank rattles residents on peaceful Far West Side street
By David Conrad
The Columbus Dispatch
FAR WEST SIDE, Ohio — What might have been a teen prank resulted in the evacuation of about a dozen homes on the Far West Side for about 30 minutes late Saturday.
Residents reported seeing two teens running away after dropping what appeared to be pipe bombs on several porches shortly before midnight.
In just minutes, the usually quiet Portlock Drive erupted in confusion.
"They dropped what really did look like a pipe bomb on our porch and rang our doorbell," said Keith Thompson, one of the first to call police. "I went out through my garage and saw the two kids running away."
No one had been arrested yesterday, said Battalion Chief Doug Smith of the Fire Division. The hollow-metal table legs did not contain explosives, he said.
"This is such a safe area," said Bernie Miller, who has lived on Portlock for nearly 15 years. "This is by far the wildest thing to ever happen here."
Miller said she was watching CSI on television when she heard the first siren.
"I thought it was coming from the TV, and then all of a sudden I turn and see a bunch of police cruisers with their spotlights on driving toward my backyard," she said. "Then I look out front and find another dozen cops with flashlights and canines."
When a police helicopter arrived, her Chihuahua "went crazy," she said.
Though Miller did not have one of the pipes placed on her doorstep, she was asked by police to leave through her back door and walk to the end of the street, where residents gathered.
For about 30 minutes, about 20 people waited outside while police and bomb squads searched their street.
Some residents were allowed to stay in their homes but told to keep away from the doors.
"I saw police in my backyard and a fire truck and a news van in my front yard," said John Wihl, 72. "So I found it to be a good time to go back to sleep."
His wife, Marilyn, 70, reacted differently: "I didn't want to leave my husband just sleeping here, so I stayed in the house, too.
"But this whole thing isn't funny to me; it's scary. And I don't think these kids realize how upsetting what they did was."
"It's funny now, but I've never felt uncomfortable here. Something like this really makes you think — it makes you thankful."
Copyright 2007 The Columbus Dispatch
Bomb prank rattle small Ohio street