Two suspicious package calls turn out to be false alarms

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Two reports of suspicious packages a few hours apart forced authorities to shut down streets in two cities Thursday.

Traffic on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston came to halt Thursday afternoon after an envelope containing white powder was found inside a business.

The envelope was found by business owner John Riediger.

"It was just no, I don't believe it, you know? You see it on TV, but it doesn't happen to you," said Riediger.

The Charleston county sheriff's office bomb squad was called in to check it out.

Businesses were evacuated and Rivers Avenue was shut down.

"That was terrible. We could see it backed at least to Target and even further which is probably half a mile or more. I'm sure it got down Rivers Avenue a long ways," said Riediger."

Riediger says it turned out the white powder was Xanax.

Then it happened again Thursday night.

Around 11 o'clock, a woman found another suspicious package with a strange smell in front of a pizzeria on King Street.

The Charleston Police Department's bomb squad was called in.

Again, several streets were shut down.

the package turned out to be an umbrella.

Charleston County Sheriff's Office bomb squad commander, Lt. Patrick Morris says eight out of ten times suspicious packages are harmless, but he says these calls cannot be taken for granted.

"The potential danger in all of the is still there, until we know," Morris explained. "If somebody else feels it's dangerous, we have to respond and we have to assess it once we get there."

Morris says these false alarms shouldn't sway people from calling cops if they see something suspicious.

"We would much rather someone call us for nothing than not call us for something. That's a big factor for us."

Riediger says even though his day was disrupted he has no problems with the way police handled the situation.

"Sorry for all that happening, but they did what they needed to do and they did it really well."

Lt. Morris says his bomb squad responded to 192 calls in 2013, an increase of about 40 percent.

He says about half of those calls were for suspicious packages.

Morris attributes the increase to people being more aware of their surroundings after the Boston Marathon bombing.

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