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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

September 26, 2013
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Columbus Police HQ back to business after explosion

Police took all precautions and checked every tip after the explosion, which turned out to be from a battery

By Allison Manning
The Columbus Dispatch

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mysteries, such as the Tuesday night explosion at Columbus police headquarters that turned out to be a faulty battery, can bring out a lot of unfounded tips. But police say they still want those tipsters to come forward.

"We're constantly preaching to everyone: If you saw something, say something," said Sgt. Rich Weiner, a Columbus Division of Police spokesman. "We'd much rather have the information and rule it out, than not have it at all."

It was business as usual yesterday at the Columbus police headquarters, the morning after the exploding battery caused a five-hour evacuation of the building and the closure of surrounding streets.

As employees milled about outside the building after the blast at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, possible sources of the explosion were floated.

Someone reported seeing a person throw something into the bushes or sewer right before the loud noise. At least one person who phoned in claimed to know who "the bomber" was.

In the end, the boom was discovered to come from a battery powering a hydraulic ladder that was being used to add insulation to the interior of the building, Chief Kim Jacobs said early yesterday morning. The equipment was in a corner of the second-floor lobby.

The nine-story building on Marconi Boulevard was evacuated on Tuesday so the Fire Division's bomb squad could go through it, floor by floor and room by room, with explosives-sniffing dogs. FBI and anti-terrorism investigators were brought in as a precaution, although there was no indication of an attack on the building.

Battalion Chief Patrick Ferguson, a Division of Fire spokesman, said a large incident such as what happened on Tuesday night can prompt people to reconsider actions they might have witnessed — such as someone throwing out trash.

"I think, normally, most people don't put much thought into something (being suspicious) until there's an event that causes you to think about it," Ferguson said.

When the second-floor lobby was first searched by fire and police personnel, they didn't see any obvious signs of damage -- and the battery was partially hidden behind a pillar, Weiner said.

Bomb-sniffing dogs also didn't detect it because, well, they sniff out bombs.

"They are not trained for batteries that explode," Ferguson said.

Employees were allowed to go back into the building around 12:45 a.m. yesterday.


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Copyright 2013 The Columbus Dispatch






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