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False Alarm: Suspicious Package at Nazareth Library

A forgotten case evacuates The Memorial Library of Nazareth and Vicinity Wednesday afternoon and shuts down two blocks in the borough for about two hours.

 -- and 300 feet surrounding the library -- was evacuated Wednesday when a suspicious package -- the result of a teen's "Dumpster diving" -- was found in the lobby. 

The possible threat was determined to be unfounded, and there were no injuries.

According to Mike Rinker, the borough’s emergency management coordinator, the call came in around 3:30 p.m. for the package that he described as a very old case, complete with reinforced hinges.

An incident investigation report states that the suspicious suitcase hadn’t been touched or moved for three hours after being placed in the library.

Causing more concern, Rinker added, was the library's summer reading program, which would have many children and their parents making their way to the library.

The Northampton County Emergency Management Agency and the Bethlehem Bomb Squad responded, Rinker said, and  and borough fire police assisted by shutting down two blocks -- from Fairview Street to Whitfield Street.

A library employee, who was not identified, told Officer Stephen Schleig that when a male, described as either a young adult or adult, entered the doors to the library’s lobby entrance, he placed the suitcase on the floor and said, “Oh, shoot.” 

An employee at the library, who was not identified, told Schleig, “I’m not brave enough to open [the suitcase].” [That’s] why I called you.”

It turns out, Rinker said, a teen and his friend -- 14 and 15 years old -- had been “Dumpster diving” behind or in the area of the in Upper Nazareth. 

They found three discarded suitcases and decided to keep one, according to Police Chief Thomas Trachta. The boys then headed back to the borough on bicycles and went to the library. When they headed for home, they left the suitcase behind because of its weight.

Inside the case, there were glass frames, a mirror, papers, wood and baby doll toys.

When the teen noticed all of the police activity, he went to a friend’s father for help, according to the incident report, because he feared being arrested and sent to jail if he approached police.

“Everyone was very cooperative,” Rinker said about the boy and, later, his father. “It was a misunderstanding, I guess. Better safe than sorry.”

Rinker added that the bomb squad was “very good” about the situation and that the two-hour ordeal went “very smooth.”

Everything went back to business as usual by 6 p.m., Rinker said.

The suitcase was released to the Bethlehem Bomb Squad for training purposes.

Nazareth Ambulance also assisted the .

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