OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A device that looked like a pipe bomb placed by someone near a federal building in downtown Oakland Wednesday was determined to be an elaborate hoax device, authorities said.
The discoverty of the suspicious package forced evacuations and several hours of street closures around the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse at Clay and 13th St.
FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Blair said at about 12:40 p.m., a Federal Protective Service employee saw someone place the suspicious package at the base of a flagpole in a plaza adjacent to the federal building.
"At this time the device is being examined to determine the nature of what's in that package," said Blair. "The FBI is on scene and will be the lead investigative agency based upon what we find in that device as this wears on."
Just before 5:30 p.m. the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said the bomb squad determined the device was a hoax and that deputies were doing an additional search around the building out of an abundance of caution.
The device was designed to look like a pipe bomb, with wires, screws and a circuit boards. The bomb squad was able to x-ray the device and determine it was a fake. When bomb squad technicians opened it up, they found a note addressed to law enforcement. According to the sheriff's office, the person who left the fake bomb was expecting the type of response authorities brought to the situation.
"This individual left this [device] wanting this type of response, wanting this type of attention, and had a message for law enforcement," said Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Ray Kelly. "I'm not going to go into what that message was, that's up to the FBI. But this was all by design."
Earlier, Kelly said the device was contained in a planter box that presented issues to the bomb squad in determining the nature of the device.
"That planter box has been difficult to work in. It's got a very deep, uh, depth to it where the device is. It's kind of sandwiched in around dirt and soil and terrain inside that planter box so it's been very difficult to work in," said Kelly.
There was no immediate information about a possible suspect, although surveillance video of the person who left the device in the planter was being looked at, Kelly said.
Oakland police spokeswoman Officer Kim Armstead said police set up a perimeter from 11th St to 16th St. and from Jefferson St. to Broadway. Several buildings within the 1200 to 1300 block of Clay St. were evacuated, said Armstead.
BART noted that the 12th Street Station entrance was closed during the investigation.
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